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Israel parliament considers criminalizing anti-Israeli statements

[JURIST] The Knesset [official website], Israel's parliament, on Wednesday approved 47-34 the preliminary reading of a bill that would punish public statements likely to "cause an act of hatred, scorn or disloyalty to the state" with one year in prison. Introduced by MK Zevulun Orlev [official profile] of the Habayit Hayehudi [party website, in Hebrew] party, the bill is aimed at criminalizing public statements that could threaten the Jewish and democratic nature of the country. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) [advocacy website] called the measure "draconian," saying [Jerusalem Post report] that the measure is one that "delegitimizes legitimate public debate, and whose goal is to silence free debate on important questions."

The measure is the latest in a series of controversial bills introduced by conservative members of the Knesset. ACRI also criticized [press release] a bill introduced by Israel Beytenu [party website] MK Alex Miller [official profile] and passed [press release] by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday that would criminalize marking Israeli Independence Day as a day of mourning, a practice known as Nakba. Israel Beytenu also introduced a bill Sunday that would require all first-time ID card recipients to pledge a loyalty oath to a "Jewish, Zionist, and democratic" Israel. Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League [advocacy website], in an interview with the New York Jewish Week, said that the proposals were discriminatory [report].

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