Israel is moving forward with proposed legislation that would make it illegal to use the word "Nazi" or to use symbols associated with Nazism like swastikas, despite the objections of some who say the law would violate freedom of speech.
The Israeli parliament on Wednesday voted 44-17 in favor of the bill, which would impose a punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $28,700 for violators, Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported.
The bill does allow for the word "Nazi" and Nazi symbology to be used for educational and documentation purposes.
Supporters of the proposed law say it is necessary to combat increasing levels of anti-Semitism.
“We have to be the leader of this battle, of this struggle, in order to encourage other countries,” Shimon Ohayon, an Israeli politician sponsoring the bill, told The New York Times. “We, in our land, can find enough words and expressions and idioms to express our opinions. What I’m asking is, please put away this special situation that has to do with our history.”
But others say such a measure poses a danger to freedom of expression.
“Is it worth it for a democratic country to forbid an entire world of images in public debate? Given the importance and centrality of the right to freedom of expression, any restrictions on it should be examined very carefully,” Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote in a legal opinion, according to The Times Of Israel.
The bill now goes to committee and then returns to parliament for a final vote before becoming law, according to The Times of Israel.