Israel looks to ban use of Nazi symbols

The scene at the Charedi protest in Jerusalem

The scene at the Charedi protest in Jerusalem

Israeli lawmakers are planning to enact a formal ban on the use of Nazi symbols and terminology following protests in which Charedim donned concentration camp uniform and yellow stars.

The law, proposed by National Union politician Uri Ariel, has won cross-party support in the Knesset and has been approved at the committee stage and by the cabinet. But it has been criticised by the Justice Ministry as damaging to free speech.

The bill would make using Nazi phrases and symbols illegal and subject to fines of up to £17,000 and six months behind bars. Similar laws are in place in Europe, including Germany and France.

Mr Ariel said he wanted to counter a "growing trend where Nazi symbols are used with flippancy and complete disregard for the feelings of the Holocaust survivors.

"This use is completely illegitimate," he said. "It makes no difference if those behind the use are Bil'in rioters, Charedim or price tag criminals."

Last updated: 3:53pm, January 9 2012