(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has ordered police to investigate the Herut Party on suspicion it incited to racism in a campaign poster during the recent elections.
The poster, which was displayed on passenger buses, shows a veiled woman and the words, "Demography will poison us." The party, led by former MK Michael Kleiner, advocates encouraging Israeli Arabs to leave the country by offering them money.
Awawdy Baker, director general of the Haifa-based Center for the Struggle against Racism, submitted a complaint to the head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinish, on March 16. He said the matter had been brought to his attention by a religious Arab woman who had seen the ad on an Egged bus in Haifa.
Mazuz spokesman Ya'acov Galanti said in a statement, "After examining the complaint, the attorney general decided to order an investigation, because a sign that combines the words, 'Demography will poison us' with the picture of a woman with a veil is clearly aimed, it would appear, against the Israeli Arab population and therefore arouses serious suspicions of involving the crime of incitement to racism."
Mazuz also decided that the issue was of importance to the general public because the ad had been displayed on a bus.
Kleiner told The Jerusalem Post that he was "astonished by Mazuz's decision. The attorney general has challenged two of the fundamental principles of Israel - the principle of freedom of speech and the fact that Israel was established to be a Jewish state. If warning about the loss of a Jewish majority is a crime, if calling for a Jewish state in accordance with the Declaration of Independence is a crime, then Mazuz should put all the Zionist parties, including Meretz, in the dock along with Herut."