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Anti-Democratic Knesset Bills

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Anti-Democratic Knesset Bills - by Stephen Lendman

Netanyahu's government is its most extremist ever.

Knesset summer session bills grievously harm civil and human rights if passed. Basic freedoms are at risk, including speech, assembly, association, and right to dissent.

On October 16, a Haaretz editorial addressed one measure affecting press freedom headlined, "Free press in Israel is in danger," saying:

Knesset extremists want to silence it "through the threat of libel suits that would jeopardize the economic foundations of the media outlets."

Last week, Knesset Law and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu party) approved MK Yariv Levin's (Likud) bill for first reading. It calls for more punitive libel compensation from 50,000 to NIS 300,000 (Israeli new shekel) with no need to prove damages.

Moreover, the penalty could rise to NIS 1.5 million if the complainant's response isn't published in full.

Levin claimed "freedom of expression is not freedom of transgression." MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) wants Israelis protected from "the great power of the media."

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Neither addressed core democratic principles. Free expression is fundamental. Feigning support for civil rights, both want press freedom silenced. At issue is preventing criticism of business, government, and other influential figures.

"For years now, democracy in Israel has been under attack from the right-wing parties....(They) control the Knesset and enjoy" protective Kadima support in their efforts to establish 'Jewish supremacy' using the tools of law."

Israel's "Prohibition on Instituting a Boycott" law prohibits actions against Israeli products, persons and activities connected to Israel and its settlements. 

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said passage gravely weakened Israeli democracy. So did other enacted measures. Those now pending may destroy it entirely.

ACRI discussed them in its summer Knesset review . They include:

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Committees of Inquiry to Investigate NGOs

Two pending bills seek to establish committees of inquiry into NGO financing. So far neither measure passed. Rejecting them as written in July, they may be reintroduced in new form. At issue is targeting NGOs critical of Israeli policies.

An Amendment to the 2002 Civil Service Law

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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