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Israel debates legality of 'Nazi'

A new bill prohibiting the inappropriate use of the word "Nazi" brings into Israeli public debate the limits of free speech in a country dedicated to spreading the lessons of the Holocaust.
A woman lays a flower on the name of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz during a ceremony entitled "Unto Every Person There is a Name" in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, marking Israel's annual day of Holocaust remembrance April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (JERUSALEM - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS ANNIVERSARY) - RTR30XQZ
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The proposed bill outlawing the word “Nazi” and Nazi symbols, which was approved in a preliminary Knesset reading on Jan. 15 after a stormy debate, and prior to that by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, was greeted, as expected, with harsh condemnation by left-wing legislators. One of its authors, Knesset member Shimon Ohayon (Yisrael Beitenu), emerging from total anonymity, was said to be "bizarre [and] hallucinating."

“You are a bunch who hallucinates and are turning the Knesset into a joke,” said Knesset member Zehava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Meretz Party, lashing out at Ohayon and a group of other Knesset members who joined him in tabling the bill. It’s easy to dismiss Ohayon as odd, given that he’s generally unknown and a member of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s party. But the identity of the other Knesset members who signed the bill — among them former Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit and two Knesset members of the Yesh Atid Party, Boaz Toporovsky and Dov Lipman — justifies a more serious debate of its content, which in its current version runs counter to freedom of speech.

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