The memorandum, regarding the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services, Admittance to Places of Entertainment and Public Spaces Law, places criminal sanctions on private individuals involved in discriminating or disgracing a person.
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The present law forbids those dealing in public services or promoting products sold in public spaces to engage in any form of discrimination.
For example, the discrimination of a person by a bus company or one of its drivers is a criminal offence.
The amendment adds an additional felony to the list – discrimination at the hands of an individual attempting to bar a person from enjoying public products or services in a public place.
If up until now a bus driver who denied services to a person based on discriminatory motives, then he would face criminal sanctions.
As of Wednesday, any private individual, or group of private individuals involved, for example, in barring a woman from a seat on a bus, face up to one-year in prison.
The memo contained a considerably "wide base of behaviors considered humiliating actions." Among them, it includes a vocal conversation about the discriminated person in the person's presence and "spitting in the person's presence without the intention of hitting them, but solely in the attempt to debase them."
In explaining the memorandum, the ministry said that it created an "additional tool to battle the disgraceful social phenomenon of discrimination, which finds its base in intolerance and prejudice, not only by those offering public services but also by public individuals active in humiliating."
Justice Minster Tzipi Livni said "phenomena such as women's exclusion, segregation between Jews and Arabs, racial selection at night clubs or anywhere in Israeli society are intolerable and immoral. It is our role to curb these phenomena and battle them.
"Against those perpetrating discrimination there should be zero tolerance. Israel is a democracy based on the principles of justice, equality and freedom. Whenever discrimination rears its ugly head it undermines these principles and damages the moral backbone of our society."
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