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'Nakba Law' is Back in Knesset Committee

The Knesset will debate on Monday the "Nakba Law," which would end public funding of Arab events mourning the State's creation as a "disaster."
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 10/25/2009, 4:20 PM / Last Update: 10/25/2009, 5:47 PM

The "Nakba Law," which would prevent schools from teaching the nation's Arab children that the birth of the State of Israel was a tragedy for the Arab population living here in 1948, is scheduled to go to the Knesset Constitutional Committee on Monday.

The committee discussion precedes the bill's second and then third and final reading in the Knesset plenum.

Funding anti-Zionism
According to MK Alex Miller (Israel Our Home), who proposed the measure, "the main purpose of the law is to prevent a dangerous situation that could evolve in which Israeli taxpayers would be forced to pay for materials that damage the institutions of the State, anti-Zionist propaganda, and activities that often border on cooperation with terrorism."

The law as presented earlier this year was aimed at preventing state funds from being spent on ceremonies to mark "Nakba Day" - a day on which many Israeli-Arabs mourn the establishment of the modern State of Israel as a nakba, or disaster, in Arabic.

The bill would prevent public entities or government-funded groups from using public money to fund such ceremonies. It would also ensure that government-funded groups refrain from incitement to racism, undermining the democratic nature of the State, or harming public symbols such as the Israeli flag.

The original measure would have made the observance of "Nakba Day" a criminal offense punishable by up to three years' imprisonment, and would have applied to any citizen who mourned the creation of the State in any public ceremony.

Arabs angry
Despite its toning-down, Arab MKs have expressed deep anger over the bill and vowed that Israel's Arab community would continue to mark "Nakba Day" regardless of the consequences.

Education Minister Gideon Saar had already issued instructions over the summer preventing new textbooks in the Arab sector from including "Nakba" as an integral part of the curriculum.

Saar noted that the order to remove the concept of "Nakba" from the Arab textbooks was a decision that had been made by the Knesset Education Committee during the tenure of the previous legislature.