Three of today’s articles relates to the proposed "boycott law" which would criminalize calls for geographically-based boycotts:
Haaretz comments: "Today, the Knesset was slated to approve the final reading of the Boycott Prohibition Law, which imposes severe punishments on anyone who calls, directly or indirectly, for boycotting Israel. This contemptible law blatantly violates Israel’s Basic Laws. The legislators are trying to silence one of the most legitimate forms of democratic protest, and to restrict the freedom of expression and association of those who oppose the occupation and the settlers’ violence and want to protest against the government’s flawed order of priorities. Knesset members who vote for this law must understand that they are supporting the gagging of protest as part of an ongoing effort to liquidate democracy."
Yediot Aharonot notes that, "There are those for whom boycott means cottage cheese. For me, it reminds me of other things, much less pleasant: The scrawling of ‘Jude’ and the Star of David on the windows of Jewish stores in Nazi Germany; international corporations like Coca Cola and Toyota which gave in to the Arab boycott and for years avoided selling their products in Israel, and, in contrast, with boycotts by extremist rabbis of Jews they did not accept, from Spinoza to today." The paper maintains that, "A boycott is a legitimate consumer weapon – and a doubtful political one. It is the weapon of those who have despaired of convincing others of the justice of their position. As a last resort they declare a gripe." The author says that, "A veteran member of Peace Now told me yesterday that he would be only too glad to allow the question of settlements and their legality be settled by the courts. The Left would receive a stage on which to have its say. The Right would go on the defensive. In other words, the Right has dug itself into a hole. We cannot discount the possibility that it may fall in."
Yisrael Hayom opposes the proposed law on the grounds that "A concerned society with responsibility for community and all concerned, which fulfills in its existence the [Talmudic] principle that ‘All Israel is responsible for one another’ – is in no need of legislation." The author suggests that, "Vis-a-vis profit-and-loss, the boycott law would give Israel a bad name and bring it scant benefits," and believes that "If it does not happen on its own, from within the public, then there is something amiss in the national and social cohesiveness of many Israelis. It is an emptiness of hearts, an emptiness which no law can fill, an emptiness which needs mending."
The Jerusalem Post writes: "Warming relations between Israel and Greece, while hardly a substitute for Turkey’s crucial influence on regional stability, is nonetheless a positive development that should be pursued and nurtured. Greek President Karolos Papoulias’s two-day visit to Israel that began Sunday evening is yet another positive sign that the historic tensions between Jerusalem and Athens are eminently bridgeable – and that doing so is mutually advantageous."
Ma’ariv reminds its readers that, "Yesterday, Israel recognized the independence of South Sudan. Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that, ‘South Sudan is a peace-seeking nation. We will be happy to cooperate with it in order to ensure that it flourishes.’ Christian southern Sudan accepted what it was given: In 1962 it accepted partial autonomy (which was cancelled in 1983). In 2005 the Christian Sudanese agreed to a peace accord, which promised them a state. In 2011 the Christian Sudanese agreed to a referendum which promised them separation from Sudan and the establishment of a state. All of these stages were experienced by the Palestinians, more or less. If they would have accepted Begin’s autonomy proposal in 1981, it is reasonable to assume that they would have had a prosperous Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, long before the momentum for settlements began, after stages of struggle and referendum. Autonomy would have evolved into statehood in an unavoidable process, with world support. But the Palestinians, as is their way, refused an idea that is correct in any situation: You are being given something – take it."
[Nahum Barnea, Dan Margalit and Shalom Yerushalmi wrote today’s articles in Yediot Aharonot, Yisrael Hayom and Ma’ariv, respectively.]