Monday, October 14, 2019

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Article Index

2. Israel

Similar to Germany, Israel governs and organizes itself according to a set of Basic Laws that comprise its constitution. Israel's civil rights provisions stem from both these Basic and the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel's assertions that

[t]he state of Israel ... will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice!,] and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture ... and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Notably, however, neither the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel nor Israel's Basic Laws include a right to freedom of speech or expression. This does not mean that Israel does not value or protect speech. The Israeli Supreme Court has established freedom of expression as a fundamental freedom that enjoys supra-legal Speech may be limited, according to the Court, but in determining when limitations are permissible [t]he guiding principle ought always to be: is it probable that as a consequence of the publication a danger to the public peace has been disclosed; the bare tendency in that direction in the matter published will not suffice to fulfill that

Israel does, however, limit discriminatory speech. Much like Germany's, Israel's Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty opens by declaring its purpose to protect human dignity and The text forbids violation of rights under this Basic Law except by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is These provisions, combined with the lack of a written right to free speech, can clearly be read as emphasizing the primacy of dignity over speech. So too can the explicit laws Israel has passed to deal with hate speech.

The Israeli Penal Code defines racism as persecution, humiliation, degradation, a display of enmity, hostility or violence, or causing violence against the public or parts of the population, merely because of their color, racial affiliation[,] or national ethnic The Knesset has named and criminalized activities involving racism, including: public incitement to racist discrimination, violence, or hatred; public racist insults or threats; and leadership or support of activities carried out by racist groups, political parties, and movements. Other discriminatory activities, including hate speech, criminal offences motivated by hatred, and publicly denying the Holocaust are also crimes.

The Israeli Supreme Court has held that discriminatory speech can also constitute the crime of sedition in certain contexts. In Kahane v State of Israel, the Court determined that a Knesset candidate who distributed leaflets calling for the government to bomb an Arab village endangered, to a near certainty, the values of public order by inflaming hostilities and hatred between Jews and Arabs. According to the court, [w]ords are liable to inflame passions and hatred and to lead to violence, and thereby undermine the minimal level of cohesion society The confluence of this decision, Israel's lack of written law guaranteeing freedom of expression, and the country's Basic Laws and Penal Code emphasizing dignity and prohibiting hate speech demonstrates Israel's devotion to social order and decorum over individual opinion.

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