If a new government bill progresses, to label anyone a Nazi, or anything “connected with Nazism or the Third Reich in Germany or any of its leaders, or a word that sounds similar to the word Nazi” risks a criminal conviction and up to six months in prison.
Nazi symbols would also be banned, except “in the context of teaching, documentation or historical reports.
While the Israeli population – which still includes tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors – have more reason than most to be appalled by invocations of the Hitler regime, it is a mistake to ban them, argues an editorial in Haaretz.
“Even though in many cases such rhetoric is unwarranted and repellent, Israel, of all places, must allow criticism of acts and opinions that are reminiscent of those of the Nazis,” says the Israeli daily in a leader attributed to Jonathan Lis. “And it certainly shouldn’t forbid this by law.”
Existing laws covering incitement to violence, Holocaust denial, and libel are sufficient, says the paper.
Freedom of expression isn’t tested by inoffensive statements, and criminal law isn’t a guide to good manners. It’s permissible to be outraged by harsh, hurtful statements, but it’s forbidden to silence them by defining them as a criminal offence.