Attorneys from a civil rights group on Wednesday slammed Israel’s lack of legal
provision to prosecute people caught making Nazi salutes in public.
“Nazi” or “Hitler” salute, made by raising and straightening the right arm, was
used in Germany during the 1930s as a form of greeting and sign of allegiance to
Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler.
Today, modified salutes are used by
neo-Nazis as an anti- Semitic gesture.
The Legal Forum for the Land of
Israel asked the State Attorney’s Office to prosecute activists it says were
photographed making the salutes during a human rights march in Tel Aviv in
However, attorney Dan Eldad, a senior manager in the State
Attorney’s Office Special Assignments Division, said that under current
legislation it is not possible to criminally prosecute people for making Nazi
“This is despite the deep revulsion we all feel towards this
behavior,” Eldad added.
Attorney Hila Cohen of the Legal Forum said on
Wednesday that the situation was “a legal and moral perversity that demands a
change in the law.”
“It is unbelievable that as anti-Semitism flourishes
around the world, Israel’s law enforcement system is unable to deal with those
who make Nazi salutes – and thus say they wish to be like Nazis,” she
Cohen said the State Attorney’s Office had previously been unable
to open a criminal investigation against activists who doctored an image of
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that made him appear to be wearing a Nazi
officer’s uniform, and published it on the Ozer Azrahi blog during last summer’s
social justice protests.
In its letter to the office, the Legal Forum had
asked whether Nazi saluters could be prosecuted under Article 4 of the
Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (1948).
The law states that a person
who commits an act expressing sympathy or identification with a terrorist
organization, including the display of a symbol or slogan in a public place, can
be criminally prosecuted and imprisoned for up to three years if
However, Eldad said the ordinance did not apply in this
situation either, because the issue did not involve a terrorist
He added that he had passed on the Legal Forum’s request to
examine the possibility of creating legislation specifically banning Nazi-era
symbols to Deputy Attorney General of the Criminal Division Raz Nazari, who
would look into advancing that issue.
Cohen warned that the inability to
prosecute those who use Nazi symbology could lead to more widespread use of such
“It is just not possible that in a country founded and built in
part by Holocaust survivors, no legal solution will be found to deal with those
who attempt to make comparisons between state authorities and the acts and
conduct of the despicable Nazis,” she said.
In several countries,
including France, Austria and Germany, it is illegal to display Nazi symbols or
make Nazi salutes. Germans convicted of making these salutes can face up to
three years in prison.
Last month, German soccer club FC Kaiserslautern
called police after fans made the salute at Israeli soccer player Itay Schechter
during a training session.