- An earlier article discussed the Mossawa Center calling
the current Knesset the most racist in history, accessed through the following
- It reviewed 2008 and 2009 legislation violating Israeli
Arab rights, Mossawa saying "almost every day" they're victimized
by racist actions, and as a result, they face disruptive social, economic
and cultural futures.
- The upcoming winter Knesset session promises worse, the
Association for Civil Rights in Israel's Debby Gild-Hayo (ACRI) reviewing
what's expected in a report titled, "Harming Democracy in the Heart
of Democracy." Ahead of the upcoming session, it addressed expected
anti-democratic legislation, including:
- -- free expression political protest rights;
- -- equality before the law;
- -- verbal and physical abuse of minority MKs;
- -- efforts to delegitimize and infringe on legitimate
human rights and social change organizations; and
- -- attempts to weaken academic freedom.
- In sum, it represents extremist efforts to weaken Israeli
democracy, or what passes for its current system, by destroying civil liberties,
silencing minority views, and characterizing groups holding them as state
enemies. In fact, "We are witnessing a reality of increasing tyranny
against social, political, and national minorities, which harms their"
rights and everyone's. Perhaps more disturbing is that surveys of the past
two years show public support, mainly among Israeli youths.
- The Knesset's 2010-11 Winter Session
- Begun on October 10, the Knesset will address some previous
session's unapproved legislation and expected new ones to be introduced.
- (1) The Nakba Bill
- As first written, anyone commemorating Nakba Day faced
prison. It was then softened to deny observing persons or groups public
funds, yet still threatens freely expressed minority views. The bill passed
the preliminary reading, and may be addressed by the Constitution, Law,
and Justice Committee ahead of its first reading.
- (2) The Anti-Incitement Bill
- Amending existing law, it calls for arresting anyone
denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state. In other
words, it criminalizes minority or opposition political views. It passed
its preliminary reading and may be addressed by the Constitution, Law,
and Justice Committee ahead of its first reading.
- (3) The Nationalization, Pledge of Allegiance Bill
- It requires all Israeli citizens to pledge loyalty to
Israel as a Jewish, democratic, Zionist state, and perform military or
some form of national service. The government didn't endorse the bill.
In May 2010, a ministerial committee rejected it, and in July the cabinet
did as well so far. However, efforts to reintroduce it are expected.
- (4) The Admission Committees of Communal Settlements
- Its provisions let admission committees reject communal
settlement memberships for anyone "fail(ing) to meet (its) fundamental
views," its social fabric, and other aspects of how they're run. Its
real purpose is discriminatory - to exclude unwanted members based on their
ethnicity, religion or political views. ACRI petitioned Israel's High Court
opposing the bill. It passed its first reading and will be address by the
Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee ahead of its second and third
- (5) The Funds from Foreign Political Entities Bill
- In original form, individuals or groups receiving foreign
funding must register with the party registrar and immediately report each
contribution amount and its source. They must also publicly state they
are funded by foreign nations and includes strict penalties. The bill tries
"to delegitimize and impair on the activities of organizations that
receive" outside funding, even though Israeli law already requires
such reporting be made.
- However, the new legislation expands on existing law
to force "certain civil organization to mark their activities as subversive
and illegitimate." It also focuses human rights groups (not others
in favor) as a way to delegitimize and incriminate them unfairly. ACRI
wrote the foreign minister warning against this type intervention. The
Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee endorsed the amended bill. It
will be presented for a first reading and addressed by the Committee ahead
of its second and third ones.
- (6) The Infiltration Bill
- Among other provisions, it stipulates that infiltrators
based on their country of origin and persons assisting them are subject
to from five to seven years imprisonment. "This bill follows"
the same delegitimizing trend against "human rights and aid organizations
and individuals who help refugees and labor immigrants." The bill
failed earlier, but key points will be reintroduced in the new measure,
currently being drafted by the Justice Ministry.
- (7) A Bill Against Boycott
- It states that persons who initiate, promote, or publish
material that might serve as grounds for an imposed boycott against Israel
may be criminally charged. They're also ordered to compensate parties economically
harmed, including fixed 30,000 shekels reparations, freeing plaintiffs
from the need to prove damages.
- Further, if the accused is a foreign citizen, he or she
will be prohibited from entering or doing business with Israel, and if
a foreign nation is involved, whatever debt it's owed may not be paid.
The funds instead will be used to compensate aggrieved parties, and the
country may be banned from further business dealings in Israel. In addition,
the provisions "apply one year retroactively."
- Again, the bill's purpose is discriminatory. It targets
certain internal political groups, and it aims to "neutralize the
(ruling coalition's) political opposition." It mainly rejects legitimate
settlement product boycotts (including BDS ones)." It thus impedes
"legitimate, legal, and nonviolent protest(s)," as well as Israeli
free expression and assembly rights, what real democracies never prohibit.
- The bill passed its preliminary reading. The Constitution,
Law, and Justice Committee will next address it ahead of its first reading.
Importantly, a ministerial committee rejected provisions pertaining to
foreign citizens and states, fearing adverse outside reactions. It remains
whether that consideration will hold.
- (8) Bill on Revoking the Citizenship of Persons Convicted
of Terrorism or Espionage
- Israel's Penal Code already deals with these issues,
so why something new? This bill "infringes on the basic rights of
Israel's citizens" because when citizenship is revoked, other rights
also are unfairly lost. The Interior Committee addressed the bill ahead
of its first reading.
- Two additional bills may also be submitted:
- -- An Associations Bill, banning suits filed abroad against
Israeli politicians or military officers. Groups formed to file overseas
suits are prohibited, and those established will be shut down; and
- -- a bill banning veils in public under penalty of imprisonment.
- The attitude of coalition MKs is discriminatory, racist,
and intolerant of minority members' views. After the Gaza Flotilla slaughter,
it became painfully evident, including verbal and physical abuse against
Balad Party's Hanin Zuabi for her participation.
- Hostile MKs wanted her expelled, others prosecuted, and
some set up a Facebook group calling for her execution, no matter that
her action was humanitarian and lawful. The Palestinians' Higher Monitoring
Committee chose her to represent 1.5 million trapped Gazans. So targeting
her vilifies and endangers all Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and supportive
Jews. An August 18 Zuheir Andreus Haaretz article said "We are all
Zuabi," meaning everyone for democratic freedoms is threatened.
- ACRI filed a petition with Israel's High Court against
revoking her parliamentary rights. However, the prevailing Knesset attitude
isn't changing, for sure not in the current session in light of so-called
peace talks, ongoing settlement construction, and hard-liners pushing a
reactionary agenda overall.
- Additional Winter Session Issues Affecting Human Rights
- (1) Planning and Housing Reform
- A new law will have "far-reaching implications"
for all Israelis by impairing public participation in activities regarding
the protection of popular interests.
- (2) The State Budget and Arrangements Act
- Israel's biannual 2011-12 budget will be addressed, containing
"numerous resolutions and amendments that impair on human rights (on)
a wide range of issues." They include:
- -- courts accessibility;
- -- rights of the unemployed and persons seeking state
- -- labor rights;
- -- public housing residents' rights; and
- -- other related issues.
- (3) Bills dealing with immigration and civil status.
- (4) An ACRI initiated amendment seeks to ban discrimination
in public services "that will not allow further selection at club
- (5) A National Health Act amendment, "adding a standing
mechanism for updating the medications basket."
- (6) An ACRI initiated measure seeks to replace the Wisconsin
Plan, aimed at eliminating welfare by privatizing social services.
- A Final Comment
- ACRI is concerned that "Anti-democratic tendencies
in the Knesset are gaining momentum," the Winter Session expected
to advance them, though some initial proposals were modified and made softer.
The previous session was notable for "laying the foundations for anti-democratic
legislation," but many proposed measures await consideration and final
action. As a result, the Winter Session will be defining and trying if
repressive laws are enacted, hardening tyranny over democratic freedoms.
The threat is real and all Israelis are at risk, not just opposition minorities.
- As things now stand, "Israeli democracy (has) already
sustained a serious blow, Arab Israelis and human rights activists mostly
harmed as enemies of the state," their status subject to the whims
of a hostile majority. ACRI and other activist groups will keep working
to save what's fast eroding, "doing everything (possible to promote)
equality, social justice, and human rights," without which free societies
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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