In the United States, a new law is being drafted with the absolute support of more than 43 Senators and 243 members of the House of Representatives. This law imposes a penalty on anyone who calls for or boycotts of Israeli settlement products, which, according to the American Civil Liberties Union’s summary of the law, is a minimum of a $250,000 fine, which no judge in the US can reduce. This penalty can be raised to the maximum penalty of criminal prosecution, a fine of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. What is interesting in terms of the bill’s supporters is that it has almost absolute support from representatives of both the Democratic and the Republican parties, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and not a single member of either has openly objected to the law.
Read: Attempts to boycott BDS
The danger of the law does not lie in the gagging of those opposed to the apartheid government in Israel, but in the broadness of its wording, which criminalises any act of boycott against Israel fostered by any international institutions or bodies, whether under the sponsorship of foreign governments or part of international organisations and associations, such as the UN and EU, according to journalist Glen Greenwald of the Intercept, based on his background as a legal advisor and lawyer, as well as his journalistic work. This basically means, based on the description of journalist Josh Ruebner, from the Electronic Intifada, the law could “stymie campaigns by the Palestine solidarity movement to pressure corporations to cut ties to Israel or even with Israeli settlements.” This includes all American companies and international companies dealing with the US or which have offices there.
This may be the bigger, implicit objective of this law, i.e. to intimidate all economic sectors on a global level against thinking of limiting its trade with Israeli companies or even deciding not to buy Israeli settlement products for any reason that may be interpreted by the law as a boycott that would warrant criminal prosecution of the perpetrators. This would make the heads of these countries think hard and long before making any decision in this regard, even if for purely commercial or competitive reasons.
This basically forces each of them to meet all of the demands of the Israeli side in any trade relationship Israel is a part of. This scenario seems to be a reproduction of the current state of the Western media outlets where all the employees are afraid to criticise Israel out of fear of the anti-Semitism laws which practically criminalise any criticism of Israel and its policies. However, those strongly committed to enforcing these laws do not realise that the Arabs themselves are Semitic, if not the Semites. However, this seems to be insignificant due to the absence of its weight on every level.
The bitter reality indicates that everything I have mentioned almost amounts to the complete realisation of the projects and goals of the pro-Israeli lobbying groups’ public relations campaigns in the US. The most prominent among these groups is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which, without hesitation, openly announced its lobbying and public relations projects for 2017, which included its keen efforts to pass this legislation designed to “target the United Nations’ anti-Israel activities by deterring influential American figures, including individuals and companies, from cooperating with any of the international institutions’ activities aiming to boycott Israel, including the UN.”
This achievement indicates the almost complete disintegration of any qualitative Arab influence in the public relations game in the West. Instead, they are spending enormous amounts of money on public relations campaigns aiming to incite the Western public opinion against a particular Arab country. The situation has reached the level of a dark comedy due to how much scathing criticism and mockery this campaign received in the Western media due to the irrationality of its contradictory justifications for this, which do not align with the facts of modern Arab history and geopolitics.
Noam Chomsky and Edward Said have always believed the restoration of the Palestinian people’s natural and historical rights depend on the level of the Western public opinion’s awareness of the tragedy of the Palestinian people and their stolen rights. Without this, shifting the loyalties of the Western governments and their submission to Israel is almost impossible.
This tragic reality indicates that all of the Arabs, including our tortured brothers across the occupied Palestinian territories, are busy fighting amongst themselves and are wasting their wealth on funding public relations campaigns to justify their gagging and shutting down of Arab satellite channels, especially English-speaking ones. These channels, despite their structural and functional flaws, may be the last media mouthpieces that still dare to address the Western public about the tragedy suffered by the Palestinian people.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 15 September 2017
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.