Knesset panel approves legislation outlawing Nazi groups for final reading

The Knesset Law Committee on Sunday approved for final reading in the plenum an amendment to the Criminal Code that would, for the first time, specifically outlaw Nazi organizations in Israel. The bill's sponsor, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), told The Jerusalem Post it was "shameful that Israel has reached the point where it has to pass such legislation. Who would have believed that there would be Nazi organizations in this country?" The final wording of the bill was based on a compromise between Gafni and the government. According to the version that was approved on Sunday, any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise, preaches, incites or encourages racism in an organized manner, or Nazi principles or the Nazi movement, commits a crime whose maximum punishment will be one year in prison. Gafni initiated the bill after police uncovered Nazi groups several months ago, made up mainly of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, in different parts of the country. Committee Chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) said, "Israel must be aware of the developments that take place domestically and, to my sorrow, in 2008 we have to legislate a special provision dealing with Nazi organizations in Israel. It is crucial to add to this a prohibition against [all] racist organizations."