Israel Bans 1948 ‘Catastrophe’ Term from Books

An Arabic term used to describe the creation of Israel as a "catastrophe" will be banned from school books for Arab Israelis, Education Minister Gideon Saar said Tuesday.

The term "Nakba" is used in relation to the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.

"The decision to integrate this idea into teaching for Arab Israelis several years ago constitutes an error that will be corrected in the next school books currently being prepared," the minister said in a statement. "There is no reason to present the creation of the Israeli state as a catastrophe in an official teaching program. The education system’s objective is not to deny the legitimacy of our state, nor promote extremism among Arab Israelis."

A law has also been proposed to withhold government money from any state-supported institutions that fund activity deemed detrimental to the state such as the commemorating Nakba and "rejecting Israel’s existence as the state of the Jewish people" and supporting "armed struggle or terrorist acts" against Israel.

An initial version proposed by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would have banned all Nakba commemorations and carried sentences of up to three years in prison.

On Sunday, a ministerial committee approved the bill, clearing the way for its presentation to parliament for future debate and voting.

Leaders of the Israeli Arab community have been outspoken in rejecting any definition of Israel as a Jewish state and in supporting their Palestinian brethren’s statehood aspirations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.


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