Should it be a crime to liken individuals to Nazis? In Israel, there's a new bill being proposed that would criminalize this offensive comparison.
In fact, according to the AP, the penalty for comparing an individual or multiple persons to the radical ideology would be up to six months in jail, a $25,000 fine for actually using the word "Nazi" or for utilizing Holocaust-related symbols for anything other than teaching, research or documentation.
Already, the legislation has been approved by Cabinet ministers. Now, it will go to the parliament where it will face a vote. MK Uri Ariel, a member of the country's Knesset and the politician behind the proposal, is delighted to see the bill's reception thus far.
“I am pleased that the government is supporting this important law,” Ariel said in response to the bill’s success thus far. “Unfortunately we have been witness in recent years to the cynical exploitation of Nazi symbols and phraseology, which is offensive to Holocaust survivors, their families, and many others among the Jewish people."
While Ariel is content, civil rights groups are extremely concerned over the bill, as they maintain that it will severely impede individuals' rights should it be passed. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel came out strongly opposed to the proposal.
“Freedom of expression is the right to say harsh, piercing and even offensive words,” the organization said in a statement. “It is the right to express crass and extreme attitudes, feelings and thoughts, and also includes the right to make use of harsh rhetoric and provocative imagery."
The push to criminalize these actions comes after protests by ultra-Orthodox demonstrators. These individuals dressed young people like Nazi concentration camp inmates -- something that would carry a major penalty under this proposed bill. The police in Israel were also likened to Nazis during these protests.
Considering the free-speech concerns surrounding this bill, the debate isn't likely to dissipate anytime soon.