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In a move coinciding with the tenth anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, the Israel Police's Training Department issued a special "freedom of speech" kit to officers throughout the force with the goal of identifying the thin line between legal and illegal speech.
In the kit, developed by head of the Training Department Lt.-Cmdr. Haim Cohen, policemen are urged to refrain from expressing political opinions in public and only to do so at home, and only in front of a small number of people.
Police said the kit was created so policemen could better understand the difference between a legitimate act of protest protected by the right to freedom of speech and incitement.
On Tuesday, Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi told the senior police brass at a tree-planting ceremony at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv that Rabin's murder was a break from legitimate acts of political protest and part of a larger cycle of incitement.
"Rabin's murder was a radical behavioral expression of violent objection that had been brewing for many months at the time," Karadi said.
The kit, distributed to commanders who were ordered to present it to their subordinates, calls freedom of speech "a basic right and condition to ensure the existence and safeguarding of other basic rights such as freedom to demonstrate and practice religion." Policemen are informed by the kit that people are permitted to protest against policy they oppose but are forbidden to call for an attack on policymakers. Policemen are further ordered to refrain from expressing private opinions.
"A policeman is not like a private citizen," the kit explains. "A policemen needs to refrain from expressing opinions on social, economic, security and political issues since we need to retain the public's trust in the police as a law-enforcement agency."
In the run-up to disengagement, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni together with Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz established a special committee to define incitement and study specific comments made by right-wing activists.
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