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Saturday, March 29, 2014 

Should Israel make slurs punishable by law?

JNS recently reported that some lawmakers like MK Dov Lipman are working on legislation to make it illegal to use "nazi" as a slur against fellow Jews:
There’s little doubt that U.S. native MK Rabbi Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) takes great pride, but at the same time grasps the tremendous responsibility, of being the first American-born oleh (immigrant to Israel) to serve in the Knesset in decades.

But this proud Beit Shemesh resident, who has worked tirelessly towards co-existence and against gender segregation in his community, was beyond shock when a fellow Jew called Lipman a “Nazi” to his face during a violent altercation with an extremist fringe Jewish group in that city.

“We were out protecting young girls who were not allowed to walk to school freely when we were verbally (and then physically) assaulted by a group of extremists who called me a ‘Nazi,’” Lipman tells JNS.org. “I thought to myself how surreal it was that 70 years after our grandparents were in Auschwitz together, they were using this terminology.”

The incident Lipman describes is just of many throughout Israel in recent years in which Nazi slurs and symbols have been used by Jews during protests against fellow Jews, including against government officials, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, security officials, and others. To help address this issue, Lipman and several other Knesset lawmakers recently introduced legislation that would make any illegitimate use of the word “Nazi” or Nazi symbols punishable by law.

In January, the Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the first reading of the bill, with the original draft proposal introduced by Likud MK Shimon Ohayon. Along with Lipman, the bill is co-sponsored by MKs Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua), Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid), and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu).

Lipman says his goal in signing on to the law, which he says currently reads broadly, is that “no one should be able to verbally attack someone by calling them a ‘Nazi’ without criminal ramifications.”

“For a country built on the heels of the Holocaust, which houses survivors, their children, and grandchildren, [that term] is crossing a line,” he says.
To be honest, I'm not sure this is a good idea because it could conflict with certain free speech issues. But they're right one thing: the way Haredi extremists have taken to using obscenities against fellow Jews over petty matters is beyond reprehensible, and as bad as their extreme left-wing counterparts' behavior. Simultaneously, it's kind of weird how they use slurs like "nazi", but though they've also occasionally used slurs like "Amalek" too, they never seem to use "muslim" or "jihadist" as a slur. Does that suggest they have an accepting view of sharia or something?

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