The cabinet is on Monday backed a bill proposed by Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) that would forbid the use of the term Nazi, Nazi symbols and Holocaust symbols.
Anyone who violates the proposed law, which has been approved in the Ministerial Legislation Committee, could expect a 6 month jail term and a fine of up to NIS 100,000 ($26,000).
The bill also forbids the wearing of striped uniforms like those worn by the concentration camp prisoners as well as the use of the yellow Star of David or any other symbols used during the Holocaust. The bill joins a recent slew of bills that are set to limit the freedom of expression.
Soon to be forbidden? Haredim with 'Jude' symbols (Photo: Noam Moskovich)
The Justice Ministry has opposed the bill, though Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman supported the proposal and announced that the bill would be coordinated with the ministry and the Ministry of Public Security. This means that the bill would undergo changes so that the involved ministries will approve it.
The Justice Ministry has claimed that the proposed law would cause disproportionate harm to the freedom of expression. In spite of the ministry's concerns, the ministers, including Ne'eman, decided to vote in favor of the bill.
MK Ariel was joined by MKs MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima), Knesset Member Eitan Cabel (Labor), (MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima), MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima)and Aryeh Eldad (National Union) in proposing the bill.
Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said during the meeting: "I understand the claims that this would hurt freedom of expression, but to treat the Holocaust like other things is intolerable.
"We have Holocaust survivors and their descendents among us, for them the word Nazi and the Holocaust symbols include a very different meaning than other harsh words. Postponing the bill would pass a message that we are indifferent to such severe statements."
The prohibition on the use of the Nazi symbols will be enforced when not in the context of education, documentation or historical reporting.
MK Uri Ariel, who is behind the current proposal, explained: "Sadly, in recent years we have witnessed a growing trend where Nazi symbols are used with flippancy and complete disregard for the feelings of the Holocaust survivors and their decedents. This use is completely illegitimate and it makes no difference if those behind the use are Bilin rioters, haredim or price tag criminals.
"There is great importance in anchoring these prohibitions in the law in order to prevent the spreading of this trend in the future," Ariel added.
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