Legislation against un-Israeli views approved

TEL AVIV – In a raucous session, the Israeli Knesset approved legislation May 15 to outlaw and punish, as well as exclude from parliamentary representation, people and parties that express “un-Israeli” views or solidarity with “the enemy and terror organizations.”

The witchhunt legislation was enacted not only to penalize any public expression of solidarity with the just struggle for liberation from occupation and independent statehood of the Palestinian people, but to exclude Arab, and possibly, communist representation in the next Parliament.

The law “against incitement,” adopted by a 55-36 majority, says that anyone who promotes violence or terror, or praises it, or supports such acts in words and deeds, will face up to a five-year prison term. Anybody who is found to be in possession of written or printed material that is branded an incitement against the State of Israel and its security, may face up to one year imprisonment.

The new legislation amends the Basic Law (Israel has no constitution yet) of the Knesset and the elections to it.

It bans from participation in elections any person or group of persons (parties) who express opposition to the Jewish character of the State of Israel, or verbal or in any other way, support for armed attacks on Israel. This law was adopted in the second and final third readings by a 78-17 vote.

All the Arab Knesset deputies and some left-wing Jewish democrats expressed their furious opposition to these laws. Especially the amendment to the Basic Knesset Law is seen as smacking of racism, banning Arab representation of the million Arab-Palestinian citizens (almost 20 percent of Israeli citizens) from Knesset representation. Some of the right-wing Likud deputies, and particularly the amendment’s initiator, the radical rightist Yossi Katz, made no secret of their intentions, to “cleanse the Jewish State’s Parliament of Arabs.”

This bill was twice returned by the Knesset plenum to the Committee for Security Affairs. A majority voted against it then because the sole body to judge which party would fall under the ban was the Election Commission. This body is composed of representatives of all factions of the outgoing Knesset, according to their strength. The committee added a provision that any decision was to be confirmed or annulled by the High Court of Justice (Israel’s Supreme Court).

Giving the highest juridical institution veto power was enough to satisfy the majority who voted to approve the McCarthyite law.

Katz expressed his satisfaction on the adoption of the racist legislation, leaving no doubt what he thinks about interference into the “democratic legislative power of the Knesset” by the High Court of Justice. This court has “not once shown too much indulgence with left-wingers and Arab-lovers and is far from impartial.”

“This law is very dangerous to the democratic future of Israel; it smacks of racism and its passage into legislation was political blindness aimed at keeping Arabs out of the Knesset” said Zahava Gal-On, one of the few Meretz deputies to vote against the bill. (The other Meretz deputies abstained).

“This is another black day for Israel” the Hadash deputy, Tamar Gozanski, stressed.

Another Hadash deputy, Issam Mahoul, pointed out that it is only natural that the million Arab-Palestinian minority citizens feel, and express solidarity with, their Palestinian brethren and sisters, the population of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, who endure brutal and inhuman oppression, daily and hourly insults and harassment, death and injuries at the hands of the occupation regime and its armed forces, and are fighting back.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org