Israel Trying to Ban the Word 'Nazi'

Bill would make everything to do with the word illegal

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 16, 2014 9:48 AM CST

(Newser) – In response to what it calls rising anti-Semitism abroad, Israel is pushing to ban the word "Nazi" from its lexicon. But it's not stopping there: Uttering any other slur related to the Third Reich would also be a crime, as would using any Holocaust symbol, from swastikas to the yellow star, for any reason other than learning. The penalty? Up to six months in jail and a $29,000 fine, the New York Times reports. Its parliament gave preliminary approval to the bill yesterday—amid critics' cries of free speech violations—though the bill must make it through three more parliamentary votes. A civil-liberties lawyer points out Israel has no law that explicitly promises free speech, but notes its Supreme Court has time and again upheld that liberty.

While a handful of countries ban Nazi symbols, this law would prohibit not just the word, but "everything that has to do with it and everything that connects to Nazism and the regime of the Third Reich and those who were the head of it," per the bill. Its sponsor sees it as Israel's duty to "be the leader of this battle, of this struggle, in order to encourage other countries." But Israel's attorney general has concerns. "Not all behavior that offends the public deserves to be made a crime," he wrote, per Haaretz, adding the law's "ambiguity could have a chilling effect and prevent the use of phrases that were not meant to be forbidden."

Two ultra Orthodox Jewish men visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An ultra Orthodox Jewish man visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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