We are not in the habit of making emergency appeals for funds but events in Israel compel us to make this request. Many of you are aware that on July 11 the Knesset enacted a new law, making it illegal for Israeli citizens to advocate a boycott of Israel or its settlements. It is a law aimed at curbing the right of free expression in Israeland especially as it pertains to the West Bank settlements.
The proximate cause of the new bill seems to have been a move by Israeli artists to boycott the new cultural centre in the Ariel settlement. The new law would subject advocates of such protests to civil suits, by anyone who regards himself as harmed, and the courts could then award damages payable by the person(s) or institutions which called for the boycott.
It is so clear that the law is an affront to free speech that it has been condemned or questioned by the major Jewish organizations in the United States, the European Union and the American State Department. Indeed, Ron Kampeas writing for the Jewish Telegraph Agency declared that “American Jewish organizations seem remarkably united in deeming the measure an affront to freedom of expression.”
Many civil rights and peace organizations in Israel have reacted against the law but Peace Now has been in the forefront and we are proud of its efforts. Within hours of the law’s enactment Peace Now launched a “Boycott the Settlements Campaign” aimed at specific settlement made products. The movement had never before advocated a boycott but as Tzali Reshef, a leader of the movement stated: “Peace Now calls and will call upon the public to boycott the goods of the settlements. It is our duty to say, ‘no further, you’ve [referring to the pro settlement bloc in the Knesset] crossed the line.’” PN also immediately set up a Facebook page headed “Prosecute Me! I Boycott the Settlements,” and within two days over 6000 people had joined it.
This is clearly a fight to defend democracy in Israel. The Knesset had previously enacted a Nakba law making it illegal for her Arab citizens to publicly mourn, what many of them view, as their 1948 tragedy. There are two bills now pending in the Knesset which confirm this repressive trend. One would provide for investigations of the sources for funding of civil rights and peace organizations. The second would give the Knesset’s right-wing dominated Constitution, Law and Justice Committee the power to veto appointments to Israel’s High Court, which the pro-settlement right views as a barrier to their ambitions.
We urge you to join with us in this fight for democracy within Israel. All the proceeds from this special appeal will be earmarked for the anti-boycott campaign. Please give generously, Israel is at a crossroads and Peace Now is leading the battle for the kind of Israel we believe in.
If you wish to donate you can either send in a cheque to the address below or go to the CFPN website (www.peacenowcanada.org) and donate online.