Boycott law aftermath: The sound of silence

By Don Futterman

Boycott law aftermath: The sound of silence
Protest against the boycott Law, Tel Aviv, June 12 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)

As an Israeli citizen, here is what I am allowed to say about boycotting products produced in the Occupied West Bank without incurring risk of fine, penalty or law suits for damages (no evidence required), thanks to the new Boycott Prohibition Law:

Can you hear it?

That’s our disappearing freedom of speech.

It’s the mainstream Israeli public, too distracted by vacation plans to protest their loss of the right to protest, unaware that they no longer have permission to distinguish between the State of Israel and West Bank settlements.

It’s the silence of North American Jewish leaders, forgetting their glorious tradition of defending free speech at great personal risk, and deferring – kowtowing – to Israeli political midgets whose values contradict everything that enabled American Jews to rise to prominence.

It’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, sacrificing the good will of our closest allies and rushing to take credit for a piece of legislation that does more to delegitimize Israel than any boycott could.

It’s the cowardice of Likud and coalition members, who opposed the bill, but found excuses to be absent during the voting while still toasting Glen Beck at the Knesset the very same day.

It’s the grin of right wing legislative demagogues, astounded at how easy it’s been to ram their concoctions past an unconscious opposition.

It’s the baffled response of our true friends around the world, astonished at how quickly our democracy is being dismantled.

It’s the failure to defend democracy by the “pro-Israel” PR pundits, suckered by the trumped-up threat of de-legitimization into holding their tongues while our rights are sacrificed to a nationalist witch hunt.

That silence is the voice not only of dissent, but of any public discourse at all in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.

Isn’t it time to make some noise?


Don Futterman is the Program Director for Israel of the Moriah Fund, a private foundation which works to strengthen Israel’s civil society.