Israel Wants Nakba Banned

The Israeli government’s decision to push through parliament a law banning its Arab citizens from marking Nakba, the day Israel was set up on the rubble of Palestine drew immediate rebuke from Labor ministers, Arabs and Israelis alike.

"This law will increase the isolationism and alienation in society and will strengthen the extremist minority among Israeli Arabs," Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon and Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman said in a statement reported by Haaretz on Monday, May 25.

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday, May 24, a bill that would make it illegal for its Arab citizens to commemorate Nakba as usual with speeches and marches through destroyed villages.

Those found in violation could face up to three years in prison.

Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims mark on May 15 the "Nakba Day," when Israel was created on the rubble of their country.

On April 18, 1948, Palestinian Tiberius was captured by Menachem Begin’s Irgun militant group, putting its 5,500 Palestinian residents in flight. On April 22, Haifa fell to the Zionist militants and 70,000 Palestinians fled.

On April 25, Irgun began bombarding civilian sectors of Jaffa, terrifying the 750,000 inhabitants into panicky flight.

On May 14, the day before the creation of Israel, Jaffa completely surrendered to the much better-equipped Zionist militants and only about 4,500 of its population remained.

The Abraham Fund Initiatives, a NGO working for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel, criticized the Nakba bill.

"The refusal to acknowledge the historical narrative of Arab citizens will not diminish the importance of the issue to them, but it will make the path to reconciliation, compromise, and building a shared future for Jews and Arabs of the state more difficult."

According to statistics released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Palestinians who stayed after the creation of Israel on the rubble of their country in 1948 and their decedents are estimated at 1.5 million or 20 percent of Israel’s 7.3 million people.

Violating Rights

The Labor ministers stressed that the Nakba bill would damage freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Dr. Eyal Gross, a constitutional law expert at Tel Aviv University, believes the same.

"To what level of stupidity can they sink?" he wondered.

"It’s the kind of law that tries to make everyone think the same way. I don’t know of any similar laws in any democratic country."

Sami Michael, the President of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, agrees.

"Marking Nakba Day is no threat on the State of Israel’s security, but the legitimate basic right of every person, group or people to express their pain following a catastrophe," he stressed.

"This is not just about the rights of the Arab minority but about safely crossing all lines towards the brutal oppression of everyone’s freedom of expression."

Hadash Party Chairman Mohammed Barakeh, an Israeli Arab, vowed to challenge the bill.

"Commemoration of the Nakba, which will continue regardless of this bill, does not represent a threat to Israel’s existence," he told Haaretz.

"It is a way to mend past injuries inflicted upon the Palestinian people.

"This bill belongs, as do others, in the trash. Laws cannot rewrite a history in which crimes against peoples were committed, including the Palestinian Nakba."

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