A protest petition has been signed by 500 academics, including two former education ministers, following recent comments by Israel's education minister, Gideon Saar, that the government intends to take action against the boycott's supporters. A proposed bill introduced into the Israeli parliament – the Knesset – would outlaw boycotts and penalise their supporters. Individuals who initiated, encouraged or provided support or information for any boycott or divestment action would be made to pay damages to the companies affected. Foreign nationals involved in boycott activity would be banned from entering Israel for 10 years, and any "foreign state entity" engaged in such activity would be liable to pay damages.Boycotts have long been recognized as a peaceful means of protest and dissent. The boycott movement [known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or BDS] among the Palestinians has been going on for more than five years, but since the violent attack by the Israeli military against the peaceful flotilla that tried to bring in food, medical and building supplies to Gaza last month the campaign has gotten increased support both inside Israel and among others throughout the world community.
Supporters and Israel-watchers alike have been dismayed over Israel's increasing tone-deafness to the effect its increasingly repressive tactics are having on the rest of the world community. Israel is becoming more and more isolated as its objectives and tactics are being subjected to scrutiny by the world community.
Silencing of dissent and the punishment of peaceful protestors in Israel, and the constant rejection of legitimate criticism of Israeli policy by the right wing Zionist extremists, are indications that democratic freedoms, including the freedom of speech and the right of protest are being closed down in an Israeli state that is becoming increasingly repressive and fascist. That is disappointing to some of us who had hoped for better things from Israel. It used to be a nation to admire.
Fanatics are dangerous to democratic values and ideals—and religious fanatics are the most dangerous of all because they find justification for extremism and violence in their religious faith and commitment. Christians, Jews and Muslims all contain an irrational strain of violence among their extremist fundamentalist supporters that seek political power to silence dissent and undermine democracy.