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January 09, 2012

Bill Makes Use Of Nazi Symbols And Concentration Camp Garb Illegal

Haredi boy yellow star demo arms up mea shearim 12-31-2011Earlier today, Israel's cabinet 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 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, and was proposed in response to last week's haredi demonstration against the state, which used yellow stars and Holocaust imagery, and after haredim circulated posters of Jerusalem's police chief photoshopped to look like Hitler.

Haredi boy yellow star demo arms up mea shearim 12-31-2011
A haredi boy posed by a haredi adult at a haredi demonstration against the state held in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, Israel 12-31-2011

Cabinet backs bill banning use of Nazi, Holocaust terms
Ministerial Legislation Committee approves yet another law that seems to infringe on freedom of expression as bill proposed by MK Uri Ariel seeking to ban use of word Nazi, Holocaust terms and symbols receives their backing

Aviad Glickman • Ynet

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.

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.
 
'Intolerable'

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.

Comments

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While such provisions do indeed limit freedom of expression, Germany and Austria (and perhaps other countries) have such laws and these prohibitions have apparently not stifled dissent.

Would not a national dialogue on the issue be more constructive than legislation that violates free expression? The instinct to legislate away rights, no matter how well-intentioned, is disturbing.

And what happens when the primitives hold their next Holocaust-theme demonstration? Do the police swoop in and arrest them all, children and everyone? Imagine the optics of the Chiloni policeman carting off the little boy in the yellow star outfit!

Let the street theater continue and let the court of public opinion judge it. In the United States, freedom of expression does not JUST PROTECT POLITE SPEECH. And yes the charedi street theater iscrass, and sexist (Where were the female prisoners??), but so what, and yes it is offensive. In the US, you don't have a right NOT to be offended. I'm not sure Israel works the same way. Maybe it doesn't. I find that sad.

The prohibition on the use of the Nazi symbols will be enforced when not in the context of education, documentation or historical reporting.

But it will still be illegal? Basically, a law that can be enforced against anyone the establishment does not like at its whim and consideration?! Now we're moving towards Iran.

When my 4 year old daughter returned from Gan last year with a "Jude" yellow star stapled to her shirt I was shocked. Last week the protesters sent a message, I didn't like it but I understood.

The problem with this picture is not that it displays Nazi symbolism but that a child is being used to do so. Such use of children also explains why child abuse is endemic in Hareidi society.

It is a cornerstone of secular morality, stated explicitly by Immanuel Kant, that human individuals have an absolute right to be treated as ends in themselves—and never as means to achieving other people’s ends. It goes without saying that this right applies no less to children than to anybody else. Parents have no more right than anyone else to exploit children for ends that are obviously selfish—to abuse them sexually, for example, or to exploit them as servants, or to sell them into slavery. The exploitative use of a very young child as a prop for offensive demonstration purposes offends against this basic moral principle. You will never see moral people doing this. Of course one would not expect primitives such as Haredim to understand this, however the Israeli press should have not published this photographed without blacking out the child's face in the same way as they would not publish a photograph of children sexually abused by Rabbi father.

The relationship of parent to child is of course a special one in all sorts of ways. But it is not so special as to deny the child an individual personhood. It is not a relationship of co-extension, nor one of ownership. Children are not a part of their parents, nor except figuratively do they “belong” to them. Children are in no sense their parents’ private property, they cannot simply do what they like with them.

Children have a right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas—no matter who these other people are. Parents, orrespondingly, have no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose: no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith any more than they have no right to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon. In short, children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense.

If children have a right to be protected from false ideas, they have too a right to be succoured by the truth. And we as a society have a duty to provide it. Therefore we should feel as much obliged to pass on to our children the best scientific and philosophical understanding of the natural world—to teach, for example, the truths of evolution and cosmology, or the methods of rational analysis—as we already feel obliged to feed and shelter them.

Since, in so many situations, children are in no position to look after themslves, it is morally obvious that the rest of us have a particular duty to watch out for them. Israel fails in that duty by allowing backward religous fanatics to religiously exploit children which also explains why it also ignores sexual exploitation . Until Israel forces Hareidi children to be educated and if necessary removes children from their extremist parents then Israel cannot consider itself Western and secular. The Hareidim argue that the salvation of the Yaldei Tehran from their abusive hands of religious fanatics was a bad thing. Nothing can be further from the truth. It was a good thing that needs repeating not only in Israel but in Monsey, Kiryas Yoel, New Square and other such places.

I agree that what has been done with these symbols is repulsive and repugnant to anyone with a true sense of decency. Which is different from Haredi "tznius" obviously.

But deprivation of free speech is equally repugnant. Would the musical "Cabaret" be able to be performed in Israel under this? What are the lines between grotesque protests such as the Haredim have given us, and street theatre?

The laws in Germany and elsewhere have caused prosecution of books and their authors in those countries. Whether we agree with these or not, is there a right to stifle these authors' ideas in all cases?

I cannot believe that this sort of legislation is the only way to go.

Barry -

another superb comment. thanks!!

If you take away free speech, it makes it much more difficult to know who the idiots are.

Good move by the Knesset.

How could they involve children in such vile antics? Ans: they are people with vile moral values/ethics as in: the end justifies the means.

I really despise them for making me think in these terms about my own kin. We always pulled together against the world. These people are divisive and nothing justifies their horrible selfish mode of existing.

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