A special nine-judge panel of the Israeli Supreme Court, headed by Supreme Court President Asher Gronis, will deliberate the constitutionality of the "Boycott Law " on Sunday , February 16, at 9:00 am. Israel’s Supreme Court hears routine appeals by a three-judge panel, wider panels being reserved to cases which involve substantial constitutional issues.
Former Knesset Member Uri Avnery and the Gush Shalom Movement have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in July 2011, immediately after the Knesset enacted the "Boycott Law ". Voted into law at the culmination of a heated debate, this piece of legislation makes anyone calling for a boycott of Israel liable to heavy torts and fines, and calling for a boycott of settlements in the Occupied Territories was defined as “a form of boycotting Israel”. The Gush Shalom appeal was lodged via attorneys Gaby Lasky and Neri Ramati. Later, other appellants joined in, including ACRI (Civil Rights Assoc,), Adalah , MK Ahmed Tibi , the Coalition of Women for Peace, Movement for Reform & Progressive Judaism, the Arab Monitoring Committee and the group of citizens led by Adv. Adi Barkai.
The State Attorney’ office, which asked the court to reject the appeals, nevertheless admitted in a document presented last year to the court that the law adopted the Knesset “posed some constitutional problems". ( In fact, before the legislation passed its final vote, the Knesset’s own legal advisor asked the Members who initiated this bill to drop it – but in vain.)
Gush Shalom movement , which had called for a boycott of settlement products since its inception, is directly targeted by this law. For the past three years. It has conducted activities under the overhanging threat of heavy lawsuits. In its appeal, Gush Shalom assets that "The Boycott Law is unconstitutional and anti-democratic, as it violates freedom of expression, the right to equality and other fundamental rights of the citizens of Israel", that these rights are violated in a disproportionate way, and the launching a boycott is a legitimate part of democratic discourse, whose use should not be limited.
' “The boycott of the settlements and their products is not simply an issue of the foreign relations of the State of Israel and its deteriorating standing in the international community . This is also and especially an internal Israeli issue, touching directly on the future of Israel and on the debate which is cutting Israeli society down the middle for the past forty seven years " says former Knesset Member Uri Avnery." A major part of the Israeli public is completely opposed to the settlement project, regarding it as a moral stain and a political disaster which perpetuates the oppression of the Palestinians and blocks Israeli citizens from achieving peace with their neighbors. It is the full right of those who oppose the settlements to express their strong objection by any democratic means, including and especially a boycott campaign.
It is the right of concerned citizens to refrain from funding with their shopping money the settlements to which they are strongly opposed. Just as religious citizens are entitled to have a 'watchdog' charged with alerting them that certain foods are not kosher under the criteria of Jewish religious dietary laws, so are peace seekers entitled to have their own watchdog alerting them that certain products originate at a settlement in Occupied Territory , even when manufacturers and shippers try obscure and conceal from consumers the origin of the product. Gush Shalom has acted as such a watchdog for more than ten years. We published lists of products originating in the settlements and our activists distributed them at public events and at the entrances to supermarkets, until the initiators of the ‘Boycott Law ' set out to gag us..
' The Boycott Law created a situation of clear and blatant discrimination. In the State of Israel it is allowed to publish the names of restaurants and shops selling non-kosher products and call upon the public not to buy there. Not only is it allowed, but the boycott on non-kosher products is funded by the Israeli taxpayer. Via the ample budgets allocated to the Chief Rabbinate and Town Rabbinates. On the other hand, anyone calling upon the public not to consume the products of the settlements is liable to legal proceedings ending towehexpected to damage claims by huge amounts with payment of huge sums in damages”.
The Gush Shalom appeal cited various historical examples of boycott campaigns which had led to changes in public consciousness and in political situations, such as the boycott instituted by American Jews against Nazi Germany in 1933 ; the boycotts which Gandhi declared against British goods during the struggle to liberate India from colonial rule, and the boycotts called by the African American community in struggling against racial segregation.
The Sunday court deliberations might culminate with an immediate ruling or with the judges opting to have further proceedings.
Adam Keller +972-54-2340749 ,
Adv. Gaby Lasky +972-54-4418988Adv. Nery Ramati +972- 50-8648854
Gush Shalom (Translated from Hebrew, the name means "The Peace Bloc") is the hard core of the Israeli peace movement.