Is Law Appropriate to Regulate Hateful and Racist Speech? The Israeli Experience

in Israel Studies Review
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This article examines the tension between liberalism and Orthodoxy in Israel as it relates to censorship. The first section aims to explain Israel's vulnerability as a multicultural democracy in a hostile region, with significant schisms that divide the nation. The next section presents the dilemma: should Israel employ legal mechanisms to counter hate speech and racism? The third section details the legal framework, while the fourth reviews recent cases in which political radicals were prosecuted for incitement to racism. The final section discusses cases in which football supporters were charged with incitement after chanting “Death to Arabs“ during matches. I argue that the state should consider the costs and risks of allowing hate speech and balance these against the costs and risks to democracy and free speech that are associated with censorship.