Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Boycotting Israel is now a crime - really!

This is an obsure but alarming article. I had to read it twice to figure what it was saying:
that it is a crime to advocate boycotting Israeli products in France. A man has been fined €1000 for organising a boycott of Israeli products; and the French appeals court and Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld this.

Since when is advocating a boycott of any country's products, punishible by law in any legal scope of Western civilised countries? I thought that's what civilised nations do - impose a trade embargo when rogue nations refuse to abide by international law. What about the trade embargo on Cuba for decades?

How can it be illegal for a citizen to refuse to buy a product if the producers are acting unethically? How can it be illegal to encourage other like minded citizens to do the same? Have we lost freedom to speak and meet politically also?

Boycott is the ultimate non-violent protest available to people to curb injustices they see but cannot directly change. They simply say, we will not purchase a product that has been made with child labour, in a sweat shop, or manufactured in a ecologically toxic manner, etc. But it is illegal in France to boycott the products of Israel who has committed unspeakable war crimes in Palestine and Gaza (among other places)? What is wrong with this picture?

To starve the beast into cooperation or compliance by doing nothing (except talking with other people) is the only power of passive resistance to tyrannical conditions available to people to influence government or the free market conditions.

I whole heartedly disagree with this ruling and the French people may also. The French don't like being pushed around for too long...they have a long fuse with a big bang at the end of it (see French Revolution). Or more recently, Michelin workers in France lock up management or French workers threaten to blow up factory.

Well if Author Naomi Klein Calls for Boycott of Israel, I am with her. The rest of Europe will probably be next in enjoying the new found powers of the EU of the Lisbon Treaty to homogenise the behaviour of its citizens. (Look out Brits - your government is almost midevil now anyway.)

Kudos to the Czech government for having been the only dissenting voice in the ECHR. Czechs must be made of marvelous stuff.

European court: Israel boycotts
are unlawful discrimination


Israel finally won one last week in an international human rights court.
On Thursday, the Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ruling that it was illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods, and that making it illegal to call for a boycott of Israeli goods did not constitute a violation of one's freedom of expression.

The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, has some 47 member states and is independent of the European Union. The court is made up of one judge from each member state, and the rulings of the court carry moral weight throughout Europe.

On Thursday the court ruled by a vote of 6-1 that the French court did not violate the freedom of expression of the Communist mayor of the small French town of Seclin, Jean-Claude Fernand Willem, who in October 2002 announced at a town hall meeting that he intended to call on the municipality to boycott Israeli products.

Jews in the region filed a complaint with the public prosecutor, who decided to prosecute Willem for "provoking discrimination on national, racial and religious grounds." Willem was first acquitted by the Lille Criminal Court, but that decision was overturned on appeal in September 2003 and he was fined €1,000.

His appeal to a higher French court was unsuccessful, and as a result he petitioned the European Court of Human rights in March 2005, saying his call for a boycott of Israeli products was part of a legitimate political debate, and that his freedom of expression had been violated.

The court, made up of judges from Denmark, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Macedonia and the Czech Republic ruled that interference with the former mayor's freedom of expression was needed to protect the rights of Israeli producers.

According to a statement issued by the court on Thursday, the court held the view that Willem was not convicted for his political opinions, "but for inciting the commission of a discriminatory, and therefore punishable, act. The Court further noted that, under French law, the applicant was not entitled to take the place of the governmental authorities by declaring an embargo on products from a foreign country, and moreover that the penalty imposed on him had been relatively moderate."

The one dissenting opinion was written by the Czech judge.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor hailed the ruling Sunday, saying it provided important ammunition for those challenging on legal grounds calls frequently heard in Europe for a boycott of Israeli products, as well as calls for a boycott of Israeli academia.

"It is now clear that in every country in Europe there is a precedent for calling boycotts of Israeli goods a violation of the law," Palmor said. "This is an important precedent, one that says very clearly that boycott calls are discriminatory. We hope this will help us push back against all the calls for boycotts of Israeli goods."


stayingfree said...

The hierarchy within the EU obviously know their oranges! Perish the thought of no jaffa marmalade at the breakfast tables in Brussels. Come on chaps...get them pesky Czechs in line...a couple of warheads and a few dozen Tescos should do it!

Sheilanagig said...

Totally kewl!!! You got yourself a blog! You might have fun.

It's exactly this kind of thing that solidifies my confidence in voting NO to Lisbon in Oct.

Can't have these EU big boys gutting everyone's constitution to buck up thier international trade affiliations.

I love the Czechs! Tienen mas huevos.

Thanks for your comment ;)

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