The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved on Monday a bill that, if passed into law, would prohibit the use of Nazi symbols or terminology. Any violator found to have made use of a Nazi symbol or term – including yellow stars, swastika, calling someone a Nazi and more – could face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to NIS 100,000 ($26,000). The bill will be put to a preliminary vote in the Knesset on Wednesday.
The bill comes on the heels of a recent demonstration organized by an extreme ultra-Orthodox sect in Jerusalem to protest widespread condemnation of their practices deemed demeaning to women. The demonstration included protesters wearing striped concentration camp uniforms and yellow star badges exclaiming that they were being subjected to a type of Holocaust. In addition, extremist right-wingers habitually call police officers and military personnel "Nazi" in confrontations over the evacuation of settlements and outposts.
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The bill, proposed by MK Uri Yehuda Ariel (National Union), would allow the use of such symbols in the documentation of the Holocaust.
Army Radio quoted Ariel as saying Monday that the bill aims to block a recent trend of trivialization of the Holocaust. "Recently we've witnessed a phenomenon of various groups using Nazi symbolism," he said. "This is disrespectful of the feelings of Holocaust survivors and following generations."
Army Radio quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying "prisoner uniforms and yellow patches that say 'Jew' on them in German – these are shocking and appalling things."
"The use of yellow patches, and little children raising their arms in surrender, that's a crossing of a line that the ultra-Orthodox leadership must not allow. They must root out this type of forbidden behavior and ensure that it never happens again," Barak said.