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The Anti-Boycott Law: What Does it Mean for Israel & the BDS

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On July 11, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed a law that allows for serious penalties to be imposed on individuals and organizations that support boycotts of Israel, its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, or any entity connected to the occupation. Many Israelis expressed alarm at the erosion of their civil liberties, with more than one prominent newspaper columnist calling the boycott law “fascism.”

At the same time, advocates with the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement are ramping up their campaign to pressure Israel into respecting international law and Palestinian human rights, with American BDS supporters holding a cross-country day of action on July 19 as part of an effort to convince the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) to divest from companies that do business with the Israeli government and military.

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian commentator and human rights activist, and a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. His commentaries have been featured on CNN, the BBC, al-Jazeera, and in The Guardian newspaper.

Rebecca Vilkomerson is Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. From 2006 to 2009 she lived in Israel, where she worked with BUSTAN, a Jewish-Bedouin environmental rights organization, and DIRASAT, a Palestinian-Israeli public policy organization.

Ofer Neiman is an Israeli translator from West Jerusalem. He is co-editor of Occupation Magazine and is active in the Israeli group Boycott! (aka Boycott from Within) which supports the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.