Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott
- For the American bill, see Israel Anti-Boycott Act
Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott (Hebrew: חוק למניעת פגיעה במדינת ישראל באמצעות חרם, התשע"א-2011), also commonly known as the (Anti-) Boycott Law, is an Israeli anti-boycott law that was approved in the Knesset on 11 July 2011. The law was partially stricken down by the Supreme Court in 2015.
On 5 July 2010 a private bill was introduced in the Knesset, sponsored by the MKs Ze'ev Elkin and Dalia Itzik and a group of Knesset members from Likud, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism and the National Union. The proposal distinguished between three types of boycotts: a boycott imposed by a resident or citizen of Israel, a boycott imposed by a foreign resident or citizen, and a boycott imposed by a foreign political entity through a law enacted by the foreign political entity. The proposal stated that such a boycott is a civil wrong and a criminal offence punishable by a fine. After a discussion held on the matter in a Knesset committee the bill was changed so as to remove any criminality, i.e. it only provides for civil penalties, and to allow it to apply to anyone regardless of the nationality of the person who publicizes the boycott. The revised bill was published on 2 March 2011. It was approved by the Knesset on 12 July 2011 with the support of 47 Knesset members, against 38 Knesset members the latter from the various opposition factions. Netanyahu and another 10 ministers, including Defence Minister Ehud Barak, were absent during the voting.
Opponents of the law argued that the law is a violation of the basic principle of freedom of expression. The supporters of the bill, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, argued that the law does not violate freedom of expression but only prevents harmful measurements being taken against the State of Israel or its citizens.
The law states that individuals or organizations who publicize a call for an economic, cultural or academic boycott against a person or entity merely because of its affiliation to the State of Israel and/or to an Israeli institute and/or to a specific region under Israeli control, may be sued civilly, in tort, by a party claiming that it might be damaged by such a boycott. The law also allows Israeli authorities to deny benefits from individuals or organizations – such as tax exemptions or participation in government contracts – if they have publicized a call to boycott and/or if they have obligated to participate in a boycott. All sections took effect on 13 July 2011, except for section 4 (withdrawing state benefits) which took effect on 11 October 2011. The law was temporarily frozen by the Supreme Court between 2012 and 2015.
In the 2015 landmark decision Avneri v. The Knesset, the Supreme Court of Israel unanimously struck down section 2c of the law (which permitted the imposition of compensation payments even if no damages were proven), ruling that it was unconstitutional. The law's other provisions were upheld by the Court in majority decisions ranging from 9–0 to 5–4.
Reaction to the law
The law has been condemned as a violation of freedom of expression, "deeply undemocratic", widely criticised in the Israeli media, and "three dozen" eminent law professors have described it as unconstitutional.
After the law was enacted, a number of Israeli civil rights groups declared that they would legally challenge the law by petitioning the Supreme Court of Israel. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel claimed that the law is "unconstitutional and anti-democratic" and sets a bad precedent. Gush Shalom, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Coalition of Women for Peace – said that they would join legal challenges. On 12 July 2011, Gush Shalom was the first to lodge a petition against the law.
The first lawsuit filed under the law was in 2018 by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli civil rights group, claiming $13,000 in "emotional damages" on behalf of three Israeli teenagers who had bought tickets for a show that was cancelled after a call to boycott. It was the first time to have been successfully applied, due to the difficulty of proving a direct link between a call to boycott and any actual damage caused by it.
In October 2018, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered that the two New Zealand activists pay NIS 45,000 ($12,300) in damages to the plaintiffs' "artistic welfare", and court fees.
- "High Court upholds part of Anti-Boycott Law, strikes part and splits on '1967 Israel'". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- "2304" (PDF), Reshumot Sefer Huqim, pp. 972, 973, 13 July 2011, archived from the original (PDF) on 5 May 2012, retrieved 18 July 2011
- unofficial translation by The Association of Civil Rights in Israel
- The Anti-Boycott Law: Questions and Answers updated 17 July 2011
- Israel's New Boycott Law Archived 9 July 2012 at Archive.today published in http://inewp.com Archived 13 July 2012 at Archive.today
- "Avneri v. The Knesset — The Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice [15 April 2015 — HCJ 5239/11, HCJ 5392/11, HCJ 5549/11, HCJ 2072/12]" (PDF).
- Hovel, Revital (16 April 2015). "High Court Largely Upholds Controversial 'Anti-Boycott Law'". Haaretz. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- "High Court rejects appeal against anti-boycott law". Retrieved 11 September 2018.
- Israeli boycott ban to be challenged by rights groups BBC. published on 14 July 2011
- Sherwood, Harriet (15 July 2011). "Israelis divided over new law that backs businesses hit by trade boycotts". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
- Background and Analysis Regarding Knesset "Anti-Boycott Law"
- Holmes, Oliver (1 February 2018). "Lorde: Israeli fans sue activists over tour cancellation". the Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- "Canceled Lorde Concert Prompts First Use of Israel's Anti-Boycott Law". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- Shapiro, Amy (11 October 2018). "NEW ZEALAND BDS ACTIVISTS ORDERED TO PAY DAMAGES OVER LORDE ISRAEL BOYCOTT". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- "Israeli courts fines two Kiwi activists $23,000 over Lorde boycott letter". 1 News. Associated Press. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- "Israeli court: NZ activists must pay for Lorde cancellation". New Zealand Herald. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- "Israeli court says New Zealand activists must pay for Lorde cancellation". The Times of Israel. Associated Press. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- Israel boycott ban law sets MPs against judges – published on AFP on 13 July 2011
- Israeli left condemns controversial "boycott ban" law – published on AFP on 14 July 2011