The Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved for its second and third (final) readings in the Knesset plenum an amendment proposed by MK Nava Boker (Likud) to Israel`s Flag, Emblem and Anthem Law, which seeks to harshen the punishment for dishonoring the national flag or emblem. The bill calls to make the punishment for dishonoring the national symbol and flag equal to the punishment for dishonoring national symbols and flags of friendly countries.
Today, those who dishonor the flag are sentenced to prison for up to a year or receive a fine of up to 300 liras. Anyone who dishonors the flag of a friendly country is sentenced to prison for up to three years. It is therefore advised to increase the maximum fine from 300 liras to NIS 58,400.
Committee Chairman, MK David Amsalem (Likud): ”We belittle ourselves. Anyone whose national flag is burned will be offended. When we are insulted the result is a conviction for a year, and when someone from abroad is upset it`s three years? Do the police keep records of the number of convictions given for such an offense? The national emblems are a national pride in every country. It is not a political matter. An American whose flag is burned is offended.”
”Freedom of expression does not mean you are allowed everything. Even religious emblems receive minimum respect. A person who arrives at the synagogue or a mosque cannot do whatever he wishes. Even at a concert you do not stand up and laugh. There is no need to exaggerate, but it`s illogical that there are no sanctions against those who burn flags,” he added.
MK Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Joint List) asked to lower the punishment from three years in prison as the bill states, to a day, and annul the financial penalty. His reservation was rejected.