President-elect Donald Trump’s latest proposal — to jail anyone who burns the American flag — inspired an MK to suggest upping the penalty on a similar law passed earlier this year.
In March Nava Boker (Likud) proposed a bill to hand out harsher punishments for anyone desecrating the Israeli flag. In July the bill became law.
The legislation currently allows for imprisonment for up to three years, or a fine of up to NIS 50,000 ($13,000). Those convicted of the crime could also have a slew of rights revoked, including access to national health care and unemployment benefits and even higher education scholarships.
Early Tuesday morning Trump came up with his own, similar suggestion. “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag,” he tweeted. “If they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
There was an immediate backlash from the White House and a host of key Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said that he does not “support or believe in the idea of people burning the American flag. I support the First Amendment.” He added that Congress has no plans to take action against flag burning.
Undeterred by the negative reaction to Trump’s suggestion, Boker claimed that the president-elect had inspired her.
“When I proposed the flag law,” she posted on Facebook, “many on the left spoke out against me and complained… But today Trump came and raised the bar — proposing to remove citizenship from anyone who burns the US flag. Trump has given me an idea. Perhaps jail is not a severe enough punishment. Perhaps we should make a law that will revoke citizenship from those who degrade the flag. Someone who does not know how to respect the state has no reason to benefit from the privileges [of citizenship].”
Boker is Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and it’s not clear if her Facebook post was a serious suggestion for new legislation only months after the previous law was passed.
The original bill came in the shadow of a six-month wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis, in which 29 Israelis, four foreign nationals and some 190 Palestinians have been killed, with around two-thirds of Palestinians deaths occurring while attacking Israelis, according to the Israeli army.
When she initially proposed the bill, Boker said that “we see demonstrations around the country where people are burning the flags of Israel and then immediately continuing their lives as if nothing happened.”
“The bill seeks to stop this absurd situation,” continued MK Boker. “Burning the flag is an aggressive action that has an element of incitement against [Israeli] sovereignty.”
Agencies contributed to this report.