Both soft and hard line US Israeli supporters have come out against the new Israeli Boycott Law that came into effect on Monday when it gained a majority vote in the Knesset. Groups have described the bill, which makes illegal the boycotting of Israeli goods, including goods made in the settlements, as undemocratic and undermining freedom of speech.Both moderate and hardliner US Zionist organisations have expressed opposition to the passing of a controversial anti-boycott law that will criminalise those who choose not to buy Israeli settlement goods within Israel. The groups stated that the law was an attack on the freedom of expression.
Unusually, hard line Zionist groups in America, such as the Zionist Organisation of America and the Anti Defamation League, have joined peace groups such as Americans for Peace Now and J Street in criticizing Israeli government policy.
Despite describing boycotts of Israeli settlement products as “abhorrent”, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman stated that the new law was a “disservice to Israeli society”.
Similarly more dovish Zionist groups such as Americans for Peace Now and J Street have come out against the legislation. J Street attacked the law as a “clear and unabashed violation of the fundamental democratic precept of freedom of speech.”
Despite describing the law as an “internal matter” the US State Department has also hinted at criticism of the law. A department official, in reference to the recent legislation, stated that ‘freedom of expression, including freedom to peacefully organize and protest, is a basic right under democracy’.
Israeli human rights organisations have come firmly out against the boycott law which they say stifles a peaceful means of protesting a central issue in Israeli politics and turns the Israeli settlements in “sacred cows”.
A Knesset fact finding group set up to find precedent for the law in Western democracies concluded that “our committee focused on reviewing similar arrangements [laws] in Europe, but we did not find arrangements in these countries that were similar to our proposed legislation”.