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Israel Terminates Democratic Right of Free SpeechLibby Lenkinski Special to Salem-News.com
Israel violates basic understandings of what it means to be part of an open, free society
(TEL AVIV ACRI) - It is not a good day for freedom of speech in Israel.
As you may have heard, yesterday the director of the Israeli Government Press Office (IGPO) announced that foreign journalists on the Gaza-bound flotilla will be viewed as violating Israeli law. Correspondents aboard the flotilla risk prohibition of entry to Israel for up to ten years and confiscation of their equipment.
As ACRI Attorney Oded Feller argued in a letter demanding that the IGPO withdraw their statement, there is no legal basis for such a threat. It violates basic understandings of what it means to be part of an open, free society. To read more about this and the full letter, click here.
Just a few minutes ago, the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved a more extended and harmful version of the Boycott Bill, preparing it for a final vote in the plenum.
This bill includes a list of sanctions that may harm NGOs and public companies, including the loss of tax exemptions and the loss of eligibility for benefits afforded by various laws.
Executive-Director of ACRI Hagai Elad calls this bill "politically motivated" and asks "why should Israeli citizens be allowed to boycott Israeli cottage cheese, as we have heard and seen in recent weeks, but be barred from boycotting the occupation?"
Moreover, it forms part of a troubling trend of limiting free speech in Israel. Less than two weeks ago, Israeli Channel 2 news reported that Ben-Gurion University's security division personnel harassed students who were distributing left-wing leaflets at the gates of the university. Right-wing students were allowed to hand out political materials in the exact same place and under the exact same circumstances. To read more, click here.
We have appealed to the President of Ben-Gurion University demanding protection of all student activists, and have likewise appealed to the director of the Israeli Government Press Office urging that his statements be retracted. We are also continuing to do all that is in our power to block harmful legislation in the Knesset.
ACRI will continue to strive for the right to freedom of speech in Israel. We appreciate your support in this pursuit.
Libby Lenkinski is the Director of International Relations- The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
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