Proposal to Criminalize the "Systematic and Prolonged Consumption" of Terrorist Publications
On 19.10.2023, we sent remarks to the Ministry of Justice regarding the Bill that seeks to determine that "systematic and prolonged consumption of certain publications by terror organizations" constitutes a criminal offense. We opposed the intention to enact such an extreme and anti-democratic law, which, to the best of our knowledge, has no equivalent in any democratic country.
In the letter, Attorney Gil Gan-Mor, Director of the Civil and Social Rights Units, stated that "there is no dispute about the need to combat terrorism and to condemn terrorism, but the means proposed are so extreme and express an anti-democratic approach that may infringe on a person's freedom without them having actively committed any unlawful act. Moreover, it is a vague prohibition that may complicate matters for individuals in charges, even in the context of terrorism, where there is no wrongdoing on their part."
Attorney Gan-Mor explained that the proposal would lead to the criminalization of law-abiding citizens, sometimes in cases related to terror offenses, without having actively committed any offense. For example, those who might be suspected of consuming terrorist publications include a person who belongs to a Facebook group where someone shares videos documenting acts of terrorism, or an individual who is part of a family WhatsApp group, where an individual occasionally publishes praises for terrorism – even if that person is not involved in the extremist views of the publisher. This proposal also extends to a young woman who starts following a foreign social influencer who publishes extremist content and begins to use her platform to praise terrorism during times of conflict; a blogger who reads analytical articles and during the reading process realizes that they also contain praise and adoration for terrorist acts; and more.
"We understand the need to combat indoctrination and brainwashing by those involved in terrorism," the letter states, "but the way to do this is by prosecuting those who incite violence and terrorism or praise terrorism through legal means, not by criminalizing people who have done nothing except being exposed to such publications on social networks or the internet. Punishing people for consuming prohibited publications by others brings us closer to a thought police system in which people can be accused simply because of their fear of what is happening in their heads."
The remarks of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 19.10.2023. (Hebrew)
The remarks were written with the assistance of Attorney Elza Bugnet.