New Legislation Seeks to Expand Definition of Racism to Include Ethnicity, Religion

(Israel Hayom) -

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation will hear a new proposal on Monday to expand the definition of “racism” from nationality and skin color to include ethnicity and religion.

The new legislation was drafted by MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) and has been signed by 15 additional MKs.

The bill states: “The need for this amendment stems from a series of most egregious remarks made by public officials who have racially denigrated chareidim, those of Middle Eastern ethnicity and immigrants from the former Soviet Union. For example, a prominent radio personality called chareidim ‘leeches and parasites.’ Another public figure called them ‘ignoramuses who endanger Israel’s security, and that their [population] numbers are growing at an alarming rate.’ An MK said the following: ‘I’d put the chareidim with [Binyamin Netanyahu] in a wheelbarrow and take them to the nearest dumpster.’ Similar and equally egregious remarks have also been uttered against those of Middle Eastern ethnicity and immigrants from the former Soviet Union. This legislative amendment is being proposed to put an end to this disgraceful phenomenon.”

According to the proposal, “The clause pertaining to the definition of racism currently permits criminally indicting anyone who incites racism against another person due to skin color or belonging to a certain race or national-ethnic background. The proposal is to expand the definition of racism such that it encompasses persecution, humiliation, debasement and open hatred, hostility or violence based on religious or ethnic belonging, or on a person’s place of residence.”

Ben-Gvir said his amendment “should be supported by every single minister. According to the law proposal, henceforth it will be prohibited to utter racist comments such as ‘Moroccan knifer,’ ‘chareidi thief,’ or ‘dirty Russian.’ Today, only Arabs are afforded legal protection and the time has come to widen the tent: Racism and generalizations hurt everyone in society and cause polarization and divisions; this amendment will prevent this polarization and division and eradicate racism against those of Middle Eastern descent, chareidim and new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia.”