Bill proposing to ban Nazi terms and symbols comes under fire
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Bill proposing to ban Nazi terms and symbols comes under fire

Knesset legislative committee says prohibition to use Holocaust emblems could compromise freedom of speech

An ultra-Orthodox man wearing a yellow badge at a rally in Jerusalem in December 2011 (photo credit: Flash90)
An ultra-Orthodox man wearing a yellow badge at a rally in Jerusalem in December 2011 (photo credit: Flash90)

A Knesset legislative bill proposing to ban certain uses of word “Nazi” as well as Holocaust terms and symbols encountered opposition Tuesday as legal advisers charged the proposed law violates the freedom of expression.

The bill, proposed by MK Uri Ariel (National Union), called for the prohibition of symbols and words having to do with Nazism and the Holocaust outside the context of documentary, educational or historical references. Violation of the bill could lead to a six-month jail term and a fine of up to NIS 100,000.

The bill came in response to the use of yellow badges and striped pajamas, similar to the uniform Jewish concentration camp prisoners were forced to wear in the Holocaust, in an ultra-Orthodox rally against media coverage of the exclusion of women in Jerusalem a few months ago.The use of the symbols was widely seen as offensive to Holocaust survivors.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee wrote that “the importance of the bill notwithstanding, it carries a potential threat to the freedom of political expression which is at the heart of the freedom of speech,” Ynet news reported Tuesday.

The council also noted that the protections the bill seeks to afford to the feelings of individuals and the memory of the Holocaust fall under the provision of The Defamation Law.

The Justice Ministry claimed the proposed law could cause excessive harm to freedom of speech.

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