A bill expanding the definition of racism to include a specific reference to the ultra-Orthodox community was approved by the Knesset in a preliminary reading on Wednesday.
The law would be an amendment to the penal law code and was proposed by United Torah Judaism MKs Yaakov Asher and Moshe Gafni, with an attached proposal by MK Israel Eichler.
The bill is set to be forwarded to the Knesset committee for discussion, after it was supported by 54 Knesset members, compared to 34 votes against the bill.
In the explanation for the proposed bill, the authors warned against the "expanding phenomenon" of racist incitement against the haredi population and its entrenchment in the broader society.
"Particularly serious are the cases in which the incitement is carried out by elected officials with the aim of dividing the people and thereby reaping political gain while harming an entire community and the unity of the people," the bill states.
The penal law doesn't apply says the state attorney's office
The authors further explain that following such a case of incitement by an elected official, a complaint was filed with the state attorney's office.
In the response by the attorney's office it was explained that the penal law did not apply to this case, since inciting racism against haredi people could not be prosecuted as a crime as "the regulations of the law define as racism only cases in which the racism is due to skin color or belonging to a race or national-ethnic origin."
Since the ultra-Orthodox community cannot be defined by one of these categories but rather by its clothing and lifestyle, the law didn't apply to the case, according to the attorney's office.
The authors of the bill closed by stating their fear that the attorney's office's response would encourage more such cases of incitement against haredi society, since it would now be clear that there would be no legal consequences.