Jerusalem, January 12, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued the following statement on the proposed bill in the Israeli Knesset that would criminalize the use of the word "Nazi" and limit the use of other symbols of the Holocaust for anything other than educational purposes:
Nazi analogies and modern-day comparisons to the Holocaust are offensive and inappropriate in many contexts. The recent disgusting display of protestors in Mea Shearim wearing mock concentration camp attire powerfully demonstrated the problem.
ADL firmly defends and promotes the right to freedom of expression at home, in Israel and around the world. Yet we are also mindful that different democratic societies must be able to deal with their own internal challenges posed by the content of various forms of expression. Germany, France and Austria provide three examples of thriving liberal democracies which impose limits on Nazi references.
It would be preferable to end the misuse of Nazi comparisons and Holocaust imagery through education and by having Israeli political, communal and religious leaders speak out to condemn inappropriate Nazi analogies and Holocaust comparisons without the need for legislative intervention. However, if the Israeli government believes it is necessary to enact a law prohibiting such expressions, we hope the legislation will be narrowly cast so it will have the least restrictive impact possible.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.