Memo to Prime Minister Netanyahu

At the end of the day, warts and all, and any other metaphors you wish, Israel’s greatest strength in the court of public opinion (not to mention morality) is that it is a liberal democracy.  It is a free country.

That’s why when you pass a law banning calls for boycotting goods produced in settlements it is not only a profoundly immoral idea, but a deeply stupid one.

No one — least of all American Jews — should purchase goods produced in settlements.

Okay, Bibi: the ball’s in your court.  Come and get me.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

8 thoughts on “Memo to Prime Minister Netanyahu”

  1. Especially ironic, since observing a boycott of Israeli goods, attempting to do so, or even failing to report an attempt to do so, is already illegal here in the States.

  2. @Don — You have a cite for that? There are several organizations already boycotting Israeli goods from the settlements.

  3. He’s referring to a Carter-era law that prohibits companies from complying with the Arab league boycott of Israel from the ’70s. As the government itself puts it, the laws

    discourage, and in some circumstances, prohibit U.S. companies from furthering or supporting the boycott of Israel sponsored by the Arab League, and certain Moslem countries, including complying with certain requests for information designed to verify compliance with the boycott.

    So they’re not allowed to comply with foreign paperwork requests verifying that they haven’t done business with Israel, basically. It’s a red herring as far as the current law is concerned.

  4. When I first came across the headline about that ban, I thought it might be a hoax like the story about the Rabbinical court passing a death sentence on a trespassing dog.

  5. Oh my:

    “According to the law, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid…”

    Any chance the Israeli courts will strike this down?

  6. If 20% of a state’s citizens can’t marry whom they please, have an education that corresponds to their history, move into neighborhoods of their preference, control their land and property, or enjoy equal access to plumbing, electricity (a), transportation , education 2, government loans (b), and state and private employment 1 2 3 (c), should that state be called a liberal democracy? I for one do not think it can. To me, this evidence indicates that Israel employs a two tier system of laws that institutionally discriminates against its Palestinian citizens within its internationally recognized borders.
    Moreover, for how long can we treat Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights as a temporary phenomenon not reflective upon its democratic or undemocratic nature? Indeed, a majority of its national history has included this occupation. 
    a – Search Adalah’s inequality report to see the experiences of tens of thousands of Palestinians living in unrecognized villages.
    b – Also explained in the Adalah inequality report.
    c – Also see reports by Sikkuy, Adalah, and ACRI (the Association for Civil Rights in Israel).

  7. If 20% of a state’s citizens can’t marry whom they please, have an education that corresponds to their history, move into neighborhoods of their preference, control their land and property, or enjoy equal access to plumbing, electricity (a), transportation , education 2, government loans (b), and state and private employment 1 2 3 (c), should that state be called a liberal democracy? I do not think it can. To me, this evidence indicates that Israel employs a two tier system of laws that institutionally discriminates against its Palestinian citizens within its internationally recognized borders.
    Moreover, for how long can we treat Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights as a temporary phenomenon not reflective upon its democratic or undemocratic nature? Indeed, a majority of its national history has included this occupation. 
    a – Search Adalah’s inequality report to see the experiences of tens of thousands of Palestinians living in unrecognized villages.
    b – Also explained in the Adalah inequality report.
    c – Also see reports by Sikkuy, Adalah, and ACRI (the Association for Civil Rights in Israel).

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