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Nakba Law in action: Students must pay expenses for ceremony

A new law forbidding the commemoration of the Palestinian catastrophe prompted Tel Aviv University to charge students organizing a joint Israeli-Palestinian ceremony on May 14th in order to pay the security expenses.

A little over a year ago, the Israeli Knesset passed the Nakba Law, stating that institutions who receive state funding are not to permit any commemoration of the Palestinian catastrophe in 1948. During Israel’s War of Independence, 80 percent of the Arab population in what later became the State of Israel was displaced. Some of the Palestinians fled battle grounds, others were forcefully removed. None were allowed back, and their property was confiscated by the State of Israel. Palestinians mark their national catastrophe on May 15, the day following Israel’s declaration of independence.

A couple of years ago, the Knesset passed a bill aimed at limiting the discussion and commemoration of the Nakba entirely. The original bill ordered any person organizing a ceremony in memory of the Nakba to face criminal charges and a prison term of up to three years. The Knesset ended up passing a softer version of the bill, stating that any institution – even a Palestinian one – could lose state funding if it was to sponsor a Nakba-related event.

Tel Aviv University has permitted a Nakba memorial ceremony planned by Jewish and Palestinian students, but ordered it to take place just outside the university gates, in the main plaza. The university also forced the students to pay for the security expenses of the ceremony, contrary to the practice in all other events organized by students within the campus. The university cited the Nakba Law as the reason for this decision.

Haaretz reported today that Israel’s Minister of Education, Gidon Saar, urged Tel Aviv University to cancel the event altogether.

Needless to say, these developments cast a shadow on Israel’s self-perception as a democracy even within the Green Line. When mentioning an historical event at an academic institution is outlawed, one wonders what is truly left of freedom of speech.

Read More:
High Court rejects NGOs’ petition against Nakba law
High Court ruling on ‘Nakba Law’ reveals its waning power
Nakba Law: Inside Pandora’s Box
Why Jews need to talk about the Nakba

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    COMMENTS

    1. caden

      Noam, this one is a parody right. You can’t seriously be suggesting that the Isreali taxpayer be obligated to pay the expenses associated with a nakba ceremony. Btw can’t we call it what it is. Starting a war, losing, and bitching about it for 64 years

      Reply to Comment
    2. caden

      Israeli

      Reply to Comment
    3. Forbidding and even punishing Nakba commemoration is just as silly and counter productive as punishing Holocaust denial.
      In both cases the inquisitive mind will ask: what are they hiding?

      Reply to Comment
    4. @Caden: “taxpayer” means also Palestinian citizen, many of them Nakba victims. It’s their own, very personal, history.

      Reply to Comment
    5. caden

      Then let them pick up the tab for this crap. There isn’t a country on the planet that would use public funds for a ceremony that calls its existence a catastrophe. You can’t have it both ways, the arabs in Israel contribute to the country or they don’t. They can’t take the benefits and act like a 5th column

      Reply to Comment
    6. Gill

      Good for them.
      If their ancestors had accepted peace with Israel in 1948 – there’d be no use for all the money wasted on security and the Palestinians would have a great life for themselves and their offspring. You snooze?? You lose.

      Reply to Comment
    7. XYZ

      Since Noam and everyone wants us to be evenhanded, I will agree to let this commemoration go ahead if the Palestinian Authority and HAMAS regime in Gaza allow Jews to gather in Ramallah and Gaza City to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) there. Otherwise, this TAU affair is a disgrace and should be banned. This has nothing to do with “democracy”. Let the Arabs and their fellow traveler Jews who view Israeli independence as a Nakba commemorate it in an Arab town.

      Reply to Comment
    8. aristeides

      Since Caden wants to double tax Palestinian Israelis, let them deduct from their taxes all the expenses of Jewish triumphalist ceremonies.

      .
      It’ll save them a lot.

      Reply to Comment
    9. caden

      Economically Israeli Arabs are a big net drain in multiple areas. It would be a big net win
      for Israel if you could put has many Arab towns has possible on the other side of the fence

      Reply to Comment
    10. “Let the Arabs and their fellow traveler Jews who view Israeli independence as a Nakba commemorate it in an Arab town.”
      .
      The term ‘Nakba’ refers to what happened to Palestinians living in what is now Israel. Tel Aviv has its own Nakba history, and if people want to commemorate what happened in Shaykh Muwannis, TAU is the ideal place for them go, as TAU lies on what was once Shaykh Muwannis. Some people may not find it convenient or comfortable to be reminded of that, but those who do want to remember have that right.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Philos

      Ugh, so many hasbara trolls and plain ordinary ugly talkback trolls. It’s like reading through Ynetnews or JPost…

      Reply to Comment
    12. Klil

      CADEN, is that so? No US Federal/State/local government funds are used to commemorate the grievances of Native-Americans, of Chinese-Americans, of African-Americans against the US? No Canadian government funds for First Nations? No Australian government funds for Aboriginals? That’s news to me, definitely to all of them.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Kolumn9

      @KUL, None of these are trying to hold a ceremony to mourn the creation of the state they are getting funding from on the day it was founded.
      .

      If France can ban the burqa and hate speech and Germany can ban neo-Nazi symbols and gatherings and remain democracies then arguing that this limitation on public funding to denounce the creation of the state makes a country undemocratic is a massive double standard.
      .

      There is absolutely no reason why the state should be expected to pay any money towards this travesty.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Kolumn9

      Vicky, they have the right to commemorate whatever they want. At the same time there is no reason they should expect the government to subsidize their activities.

      Reply to Comment
    15. max

      “these developments cast a shadow on Israel’s serf-perception as a democracy”
      Last I checked – 2 minutes ago – Israel is defined as a democracy (and ‘free’ by other human-rights standards) by all but some fringe voices.
      .
      Let’s assume that democracy is a goal and not an instrument (otherwise the whole discussion is meaningless): what democratic principle has been violated here?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Sol Salbe

      Caden, have you heard of a country called Australia? It’s not that small a place.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Catblending

      We should be honest about what is happening here: this student group is being singled out for its political beliefs and an onerous financial burden is being placed on its members if they wish the protest to take place on University grounds. However, at least according to another article on this site, public assemblies of less than 50 people do not need a permit. Their right to speak is not being infringed on, but they are still being bullied by this anti-democratic law.

      Reply to Comment
    18. max

      @Sol, are you proposing that Israel does to the Palestinians what the white Australians did to the closed to extinct Aboriginal Australians?

      Reply to Comment
    19. Sol Salbe

      Max, I was addressing Caden’s specific comment: “There isn’t a country on the planet that would use public funds for a ceremony that calls its existence a catastrophe.” I figured out he never heard of Australia.

      Reply to Comment
    20. aristeides

      I’ve become convinced that Caden is actually an antisemitic agent provocateur, who posts on public forums with the delegitimatizing intent of making Israeli Jews appear odious. And very effectively, too.

      Reply to Comment
    21. caden

      Sol, if Australia finances ceremonies that call the existence of the country a terrible catastrophe. The worst thing that has ever happened. Then I stand corrected. The United States soesn’t do that. And btw Native Americans, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and believe it or not Jewish Americans have gone out there way to prove their patriotism and loyalty. Somethign that you can’t say about the Arabs in Israel. they are an anchor, by any measurement.

      Reply to Comment
    22. caden

      doesn’t and Something

      Reply to Comment
    23. Larry Rosenwald

      Anyone know what exactly _happened_ at the ceremony? I ask because I can imagine several “nakba ceremonies,” some of which would involve a denunciation of the Israeli state, some of which wouldn’t, some of which would simply be ceremonies of mourning.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Sol Salbe

      Caden: Australia does indeed. Various level of government and government subsidise NGOs participate in Invasion Day ceremonies which are naturally held on the same day as Australia Day given that everyone uses only one calendar.

      Reply to Comment
    25. sh

      The ceremony hasn’t happened yet:
      .
      http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=269824
      “The ceremony marking the “Nakba” – the name for the creation of the Palestinian exodus caused by the founding of the Jewish state, meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic – will be held outside the main gate of the university, after TAU went back on an earlier decision to allow the ceremony outside the Social Sciences building. The university also rescinded an earlier decision to allow the students to use a sound system during the event.
      .
      Meanwhile an increasing number of Knesset members are trying to scupper the ceremony, last-minute.
      .
      To clear up a couple of misconceptions, the Palestinians, by celebrating the Nakba, are no more calling Israel’s existence a catastrophe than the Jews are calling Rome’s existence a catastrophe when they fast on Tish’a B’Av or Germany’s existence a catastrophe when commemorating Pogromnacht as the Germans call Kristallnacht these days, or Holocaust Day (the German government subsidizes both, not inside their country but also abroad). They are mourning their own catastrophe, i.e. that of their dispossession, the dispersion of their families and the deaths of their innocents.
      .
      If at least a full quarter of our citizens respect Independence Day, for which they fork out like all citizens do even if they don’t celebrate it, there is no reason for the rest of us not to respect their catastrophe. The only reason we’re so against it is that even mentioning their catastrophe reminds a subconsciously guilt-stricken us of the part we played in it. The idea that we might not only be as glorious, but also as base as any other nation – a founding principle of Zionism was achieving this kind of “normalization” – is something we can’t come to grips with, not even after 64 years.
      .
      Facing reality has not, so far, been one of our greatest accomplishments.

      Reply to Comment
    26. sh

      There’s an open quote that should have been closed after “event” at the end of the second paragraph.

      Reply to Comment
    27. In the high Utah desert there is Topaz, one of the WW II Japanese internment camps. I was there this March. There is nothing there save somewhat narrow gravel like roads–and little white cross signs made by some local Boy Scout troop telling you what was there: “block 32, block 33,…” On one corner of the rather large non-camp is a tall American flag. Go there and you find a memorial slab, funded by the US Congress during, I think, the Clinton years. It says that those interned there were removed from their homes, mostly losing all their property, solely for their race. By the time this flag and slab were placed most who had lived in the camp were dead.
      .
      I don’t think any State can claim its founding is even near pure. Because the remnants of the losing people are still with you, the reality of State formation remains raw. You will, simply, have to transmute that history; you will have to come to realize that the costs of State formation are great, on all the many sides. But this does not detract from Israel’s existence. It would merely acknowledge where the State origniated. It would acknowledge the dangerous side of collective humanity’s past.
      .
      For those who wish to only celebrate Independence Day, read you Declaration of Independence, and actualize it. That would go far to removing the Nakba you implicitly fear.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Shlomo Krol

      In the future egalitarian Israel, the entire nation and not only Jews will celebrate Independence day, and the entire nation, not only Arabs, will commemorate the tragedy of the Palestinian catastrophe, the Naqba.

      Today, there is alot of propaganda and demagoguery on the both sides in regard of the events of 1947-1949, just as in regard of the history of this conflict in general.

      The tragedy of Naqba is an ongoing tragedy. It must be solved in a just and agreed upon way, without creating new injustices. This is possible. What is missing is the good will on the both sides.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Oren

      serf-perception?

      Reply to Comment
    30. XYZ

      Vicky-
      Thank you for pointing out that TAU and Ramat Aviv were once the Arab village of Shiekh Munis. That is why I always enjoying pointing out to the Left that when they say that Jews living in Hevron or the West Bank settlements is “immoral” (as opposed to “impracticle”) that they are being hypocrites. If a Jew has a right to live in Ramat Aviv, then he has a right to live in Hevron. If he has no right to live in Hevron, then he has no right to live in Ramat Aviv.
      Thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    31. aristeides

      X – your cliches are getting stale. You need to open a fresh box.

      .
      But in fact your example only shows why the Naqba must be commemorated – to remind the world that the founding of the state of Israel was an act of ethnic cleansing, no less illegitimate than the current wave of occupying the West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
    32. XYZ, I am no fan of the two-state solution, because I don’t believe in division on religious or ethnic lines and I don’t think there is a place in the world where such separation has ever led to anything good. Even if it were practical to do it, it would still be wrong. I support the right of Jews to live anywhere they like in this country, be it Hebron or Ramat Aviv. But where people live is only one aspect of the discussion. The other aspect is *how* they live. At present Jews are living in Hebron at the expense of Hebron’s Palestinians, who have a life that is far from easy. When people talk about the immorality of settlement, they’re objecting to the nature of that settlement and the military occupation that makes it possible, not the physical presence of Jews.
      .
      Last year, during a visit to Umm al-Khair (a Bedouin village whose land has been appropriated for the construction of Karmel, and which has faced repeated home demolitions) I saw a teenager from Karmel return the Umm al-Khair children’s football, which had gone over the fence. This may not sound like a particularly exciting story, but it was a big deal for the Umm al-Khair children. Their footballs inevitably end up going over that fence, and the settlers rather pettily refuse to return them. This girl would not look at us as she returned the ball, she would not acknowledge the Umm al-Khair children’s ‘thank you’, she did not reply when I asked for her name, but she did at least respond to the request for the ball. I don’t want her to be living miles away in Tel Aviv, I would far rather that she was able to play football with the Umm al-Khair kids. This doesn’t mean an end to her community, it means an end to the way in which that community lives now – confiscating Umm al-Khair’s grazing land and watching as Umm al-Khair houses get torn down, all on the back of the army. You see the difference.
      .
      Nakba commemorations are important ways of getting to this point. The Bedouin living in Umm al-Khair are originally from the Negev, expelled during the Nakba. They draw a direct link between what happened to them in 1948 and what’s happening to them now. It’s dispossession in another form. This is perhaps another reason why people get so hostile towards Nakba commemorations – the Nakba is a little too close for comfort.

      Reply to Comment
    33. XYZ

      Vicky-
      I am aware that views like yours that divisions along ethnic or religious lines are undesirable are popular in the Left-Progressive circles, but you have to understand that people are different…they have different cultures, religions, traditions and values. You can not expect everyone to be the same. It is natural that this is the way human society is.
      The Europeans Union was supposed to be an example of what you are expressing….a geo-political unit that is organized primarily along ecnomic lines (the Euro-zone). Avrum Burg says this is the messianic dream of Judaism (in which he is wrong). Many people predicted that it would boomerang and INCREASE nationalist and chauvinist feelings because of its artificial attempt to stamp them out, and indeed that is what we are now seeing, with the Germans resenting having to bail out “those lazy Greeks” and the Greeks resenting being told what to do by their former “Nazi conquerors”. Add to this the rise of extremist anti-immigrant parties all over Europe. Religious and ethnic division should be recognized and instead of efforts to stamp them out, there should be efforts to encourage tolerance and mutual respect between the various groups.

      Regarding Hevron, I have been visiting there regularly since the 1970’s. The early groups of Jews who went to live there in the wake of the Six-Day War went to great lengths to develop friendly relations with their Arab neighbors. Terror attacks against the Jewish community did cause some Jews to become extremists. Oslo really poisoned the atmosphere because it empowered the most extreme elements in the Palestinian community whose whole power base was predicated on having friction and “fighting the Zionist enemy”. Fortunately, the relations between local Jews and Arabs which were destroyed by the Oslo “peace process” is now being rebuilt, slowly and painfully. There are growing business and social contacts between the groups. Much fricition is caused by the various NGO’s who come and want to stir up trouble by making provocations.
      There will never be peace here until a Jew can feel as safe and have freedom of movmeent in Hevron just as he has in Tel Aviv.

      Reply to Comment
    34. palestinian

      @Gill , ancestors ? it happened 64 years ago not 3000 years ago.There was no Israel before 1948 ,their parents and grandparents refused to give up their land to thieves from Europe.Its like saying if the landlord made peace with the burglar he wouldnt get hurt …is that your logic

      Reply to Comment
    35. sh

      XYZ – “There will never be peace here until a Jew can feel as safe and have freedom of movmeent in Hevron just as he has in Tel Aviv.”
      .
      There will only be peace here when a Palestinian in Hebron and in Tel Aviv can feel as safe as, and have the same freedom of movement as, a Jew in Hebron has enjoyed for the past 44 years. You aren’t the only one here who visited Hebron in the 1970s. It had a thriving market where the best fresh orange juice ever could be enjoyed along with amicable chit-chat with its vendors. Is what you call going to great lengths to develop friendly relations building Kiryat Arba or is it courageously taking over Beit Hadassah?
      .
      Oh, and you omitted the Jewish Underground’s and Goldstein’s neighborly gestures in Hebron.

      Reply to Comment
    36. XYZ

      95% of Hevron is OFF-LIMITS to Jews. Only 5% (actually probably less) is under Israeli control. Jews have NO “freedom of movement” around the city as you claim. You can buy fresh orange anywhere you want in the 95% of the city under Palestinian control. You see, the Palestinians demand that ALL Jews be removed from the city. This is hardly “equality” and is unacceptable. Jews will continue to live there regardless of whatever political arrangements may be made in the future regarding the West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Cortez

      “I am aware that views like yours that divisions along ethnic or religious lines are undesirable are popular in the Left-Progressive circles, but you have to understand that people are different…they have different cultures, religions, traditions and values. You can not expect everyone to be the same. It is natural that this is the way human society is.”
      .
      Except most of these were self-constructed in the last 100 years and have been reconstructed time and time again naturally and unnaturally for political purposes. It’s even more poignant in Israel because it is literally an Eastern European country in the Middle East based on one European conception of Judaism. The differences were not so wide and deep prior to the arrival of Ashkenazis but in the future it don’t have to be as deep. I hope a one state solution happens as way of protecting Judaism and Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Cortez

      “95% of Hevron is OFF-LIMITS to Jews. Only 5% (actually probably less) is under Israeli control. Jews have NO “freedom of movement” around the city as you claim. You can buy fresh orange anywhere you want in the 95% of the city under Palestinian control. You see, the Palestinians demand that ALL Jews be removed from the city. This is hardly “equality” and is unacceptable. Jews will continue to live there regardless of whatever political arrangements may be made in the future regarding the West Bank.”
      .
      Except For the fact that Hebron has been divided into the different sectors because of the presence of hostile Israelis, so everyone is affected by this separation and in H2 is effectively a cage for Palestinians. Walking through there was like seeing apartheid and the segregated south all over again.

      Reply to Comment
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