Award-winning Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Award-winning investigative journalist and founder/editor of, Robert Parry has passed away. His ground-breaking work uncovering Reagan-era dirty wars in Central America and many other illegal and immoral policies conducted by successive administrations and U.S. intelligence agencies, stands as an inspiration to all in journalists working in the public interest.

Robert had been a regular guest on our Between The Lines and Counterpoint radio shows -- and many other progressive outlets across the U.S. over four decades.

His penetrating analysis of U.S. foreign policy and international conflicts will be sorely missed, and not easily replaced. His son Nat Parry writes a tribute to his father: Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews.

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New Israeli Law Targeting Activists Advocating a Boycott of Israel Provokes Backlash

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Posted July 20, 2011

Interview with Ofer Neiman, leader of Israeli group Boycott from Within, conducted by Melinda Tuhus


The Israeli Knesset, or parliament, recently passed a controversial law that criminalizes support for the Palestinian-initiated and -led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. The law, approved on July 11, states that individuals or organizations advocating a boycott may be sued for compensation by any individual or institution claiming damage as a result. Evidence of actual damage will not be required. The measure also bars the government from doing business with companies that comply with boycotts.

The call to resist Israeli occupation by non-violent means through economic pressure was declared in 2005 and has been gaining momentum around the world. The BDS campaign takes its inspiration from the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, with the goal of persuading the Israeli government to comply with international law and universal principles of human rights.

Israeli groups such as the Coalition of Women for Peace and Boycott from Within, which are the targets of the new law, say that the threat of lawsuits will not deter them from promoting BDS inside Israel. Between the Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Ofer Neiman, a leader of the group Boycott From Within. He explains that opposition to the bill, now being challenged in court, came from both the right and left, and perhaps will have the opposite effect of what the Israeli government intended.

OFER NEIMAN: Basically, this law renders expressions of support of boycotts of the BDS type, renders such expressions illegal torts, which means that people who feel affected by such expressions of support, who feel they've incurred damages caused by other Israelis, can sue these people for damages. That's basically the gist of the law. The law's already gone into effect. So far, as far as I know, there have been no lawsuits filed. It feels as if most of the people who support this law are now somewhat on the offensive. I don't know whether it will be repealed....

BETWEEN THE LINES: So, opponents of this law say it's an attack on freedom of speech...

OFER NEIMAN: And also people say, and I think they are correct in saying it, that the law will actually boost the BDS campaign and damage official Israel.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Explain how this sentiment against what Israel is doing is expressed within Israel, and the other part of the question is what connection do you have with Palestinians running the BDS campaign in the West Bank, and also international supporters?

OFER NEIMAN: I think that more and more Israelis are becoming familiar with this term. One example would be Ehud Barak, the minister of defense. He recently gave an interview and he spoke about BDS, using explicitly this term, as a threat to Israel. Of course he's one of those stubborn people who will do nothing to change Israeli policies unless he's pushed hard against the wall, but he did mention BDS as a warning to the Israeli public at large. I think most Israelis may still be unaware of the explicit term BDS. Again, one of the reasons is that the discourse in Israel has more to do with boycotting the settlement products – that's a different campaign, a very partial campaign, somewhat inadequate in my view. So most of the debating is around boycotting settlement products. Our group, which is called, the unofficial name is Boycott From Within, it's an Israeli support group for the Palestinian BDS call from 2005, and we try to spread that message. Of course there's a strong connection between people in the group and the non-violent Palestinian campaign against the wall.

BETWEEN THE LINES: So what are the consequences for those Israelis, like yourself, Ofer Neiman, who continue to call for a boycott of Israel from within? Do you face arrest?

OFER NEIMAN: No, we don't face arrest. We may be arrested if we can't pay the fines eventually, if too many people sue us. But we're not getting arrested, because it's only a tort, it's not a criminal offense. Personally, I don't think that Israel will become a totalitarian state for its privileged Jewish citizenship, and that's another thing that's important to emphasize: Too many people in Israel who are opposing the bill are speaking of Israel as a democracy and saying democracy may be lost here. And I don't subscribe to this view. If you look at it, Israel is not really a democracy; it's closer to being an apartheid state if you consider the occupation. It's an Israeli-centric discourse, that if they come for us – even if it's in a very minor way considering what Israel is doing to the Palestinians – then democracy is lost. I mean, democracy has been lost – if there was ever a significant form of democracy here – long ago. So, I mean, people in my group are trying to emphasize that it shouldn't be so much about us, the privileged Israelis, the discussion should be more about the Palestinians, about the occupation, and I don't think Israel will become a totalitarian regime for people like me. One of the main reason is that Jewish communities abroad are becoming concerned about it. It's bad for their business; it's bad for Israel advocacy if Israel oppresses privileged Jewish citizens. That's why we're seeing people like Eric Yoffe and Abe Foxman – prominent figures in the U.S. Jewish establishment — we've seen them speaking out, condemning this boycott law.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Israel's taken extreme steps this summer to keep international supporters of the Palestinian cause out of the region, pressuring Greece to prevent the Gaza freedom flotilla from sailing and pressuring airlines to prevent activists from flying to Tel Aviv and then going to the West Bank. Do you think Israel is feeling more isolated or up against the wall than it has for the past several decades?

OFER NEIMAN: Well, many Israelis do speak of being somewhat isolated and this narrative of "The world doesn't understand us." But still, I think that now with a campaign which is inherently non-violent that many Israelis have to think well beyond that, to dig deeper, and I think many Israelis are doing that, because it is a non-violent campaign, so the average Israeli can speak as much as he or she wants about singling out and global isolation, but it is a very unique campaign and I think that many Israelis are confused about it, and this confusion is good. We can do something with it, something constructive.

For more information about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, visit Boycott from Within at

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