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Rights group: make Nazi salutes a criminal offense (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 03/21/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=262817 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Attorneys from a civil rights group slammed on Wednesday Israel´s lack of legal provision to prosecute people caught making Nazi salutes in public.

The ´Nazi´ or ´Hitler´ salute, made by raising and straightening the right arm, was used in 1930s Germany as a form of greeting and sign of allegiance to Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler. Today, modified salutes are used by Neo-Nazis including as an anti-Semitic gesture.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asked the State Attorney´s Office to prosecute activists it says were photographed making Nazi salutes during a human rights march in Tel Aviv in December.

However, in response, attorney Dan Eldad, a senior manager in the State Attorney´s Office Special Assignments Division, said that under current legislation, it is not possible to criminally prosecute people for making Nazi salutes.

"This is despite the deep revulsion we all feel towards this behavior," Eldad added.

Attorney Hila Cohen of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel said on Wednesday that the situation was "a legal and moral perversity that demands a change in the law."

"It is unbelievable that as anti-Semitism flourishes around the world, Israel´s law enforcement system is unable to deal with those who make Nazi salutes, and thus say they wish to be like Nazis," she added.

Cohen said that the State Attorney had previously said they could not open a criminal investigation after activists published an image of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, doctored to make it seem he was wearing a Nazi officer´s uniform, on the ´Ozer Azrahi´ blog during the ´tent protests´ that swept the country last summer.

In its letter to the State Attorney´s Office, the Legal Forum had also asked whether the Nazi saluters could be prosecuted under Article 4 of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (1948).

That law states that a person who commits an act expressing identification with a terrorist organization or sympathy for it, including displaying a symbol or slogan, in a public place can be criminally prosecuted and if convicted imprisoned for up to three years.

However, Eldad said that the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance did not apply in this situation either, because the issue did not involve a terrorist organization.

He added that he had passed the Legal Forum´s request to examine creating legislation specifically banning Nazi-era symbols to attorney Raz Nazari, the Deputy Attorney General for criminal matters, who would look into advancing that issue.

Cohen warned that the inability to prosecute those who use Nazi symbolism could lead to more widespread use of such images.

"It is just not possible that in a country founded and built in part by Holocaust survivors, no legal solution will be found to deal with those who attempt to make comparisons between state authorities and the acts and conduct of the despicable Nazis," she said.

In several countries, including France, Austria and Germany, it is illegal to display Nazi symbols or make Nazi salutes. Germans convicted of making ´Hitler salutes´ can face up to three years in prison. Last month, German football club FC Kaiserslautern called police after fans made the Nazi salute at Israeli footballer Itay Schechter during a training session. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/21/12)

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