'Jenin, Jenin Bill' approved in early vote

Legislation would allow class-action suits against those who slander IDF soldiers' operational activities.

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May 22, 2013 16:35
1 minute read.
The Jenin refugee camp

Jenin 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A bill allowing class-action lawsuits to be filed against those who slander IDF soldiers passed a preliminary vote on Wednesday.

According to the legislation submitted by MK Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi) and coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), if someone slanders IDF soldiers’ operational activities, that person can be sued for slander in a class-action suit.

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“MKs made the smart, fair and uncompromising decision [to vote in favor of the bill], with IDF soldiers and the security interests of the State of Israel in mind. The bill will build morale for soldiers and increase their motivation and ability to focus on military missions,” Chetboun said.

At the same time, Chetboun added, he recognizes the importance of freedom of expression for those who criticize the IDF – but soldiers should have the right to defend their good names.

“This is an important step that will defend the honor of IDF soldiers,” Levin stated. “We should continue working on this bill so that in the future those who create false propaganda – like the film Jenin, Jenin – will pay the price.”

The bill was inspired partly by the 2002 film Jenin, Jenin, which claimed that the IDF committed a massacre in the West Bank refugee camp. Five reserve soldiers filed suit for defamation, but the judge dismissed their case because they were not personally slandered in the film.

“Israel’s detractors, who are waging a war of international delegitimization and want a boycott of our country and citizens, choose IDF soldiers as an easy target for their accusations and smears, knowing that no legal action will be taken against them,” the bill’s explanatory portion reads. “Many claims against IDF soldiers have been proven to be lies... but the soldiers who were harmed and the reputation of the IDF that was slandered were left with no judicial response.”

MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) argued against the bill, saying it is undemocratic and racist.

“Today it’s the IDF, tomorrow it will be against the law to criticize the police or the government,” he said.

The legislation passed with 44 in favor and 16 opposed.


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