Up to a year in prison could be your fate for “harming the dignity of the national anthem,” if a new bill introduced on Tuesday by MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi party) is passed.
In a Maariv report, Orbach said he decided to put forth the idea after fans of the Bnei Sakhnin soccer team rioted during the playing of the national anthem before a game against Beitar Jerusalem. He added that the bill would be an amendment to the already extant Flag and Emblem Law, enabling the national anthem to have the same legal status as the official Israeli flag and menorah emblem.
The anthem, “Hatikva” (the hope), contains a clear Zionist and Jewish theme that has sometimes been criticized for lack of resonance with Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. In particular, Israeli-Arab soccer players, such as the team Bnei Sakhnin, have attracted controversy for not singing the anthem during games at home and abroad, as can be seen in the Youtube video above.
In October 2011, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union party) introduced a bill to ban Arab players from playing for the national team if they would not sing the anthem, but it did not pass.