Friday, March 19, 2010

‘Softened’ Nakba law passes 1st reading.

The Israeli Knesset has just voted to pass a "softened" version of the Nakba law, which gives us some indication of just how extreme the coalition Netanyahu is leading actually are.

According to the bill, the finance minister will be authorized to decrease the budget for bodies receiving government funding if they are found responsible for activities denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, instances of racial incitement, violence or terrorism, or provide support for armed struggle or terrorism against the country.

Among the activities forbidden by the “Nakba law” are marking Independence Day and the founding of Israel with mourning ceremonies and vandalizing or physical disdain towards the flag and State symbols.

By stating that Israeli Arabs cannot commemorate Nakba, the Israelis are effectively trying to blot out the history of the Palestinians, insisting that they cannot commemorate what they consider to be the blackest day in their history.

The bill was met with outrage among the Arab parties. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said, “This is one of the most dangerous laws discussed in the Knesset in the past decade. It is aimed at damaging freedom of expression, which is a basic constitutional right recognized throughout the world. This legislation upholds all the criteria of racism as recognized in international institutions.”

Knesset Member Taleb El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta’al) said the law “proves the failure of Zionism, which needs to legislate a law in order to force the Zionist narrative and to rewrite history during which the Zionist movement committed crimes against humanity on the Palestinian people.”

Ha'aretz, in a leading article entitled "Mocking Democracy", denounce this step on the road to achieving Avigdor Lieberman's election promise that no loyalty should mean no citizenship.
Avigdor Lieberman's party, which ran a blatant election campaign against Israeli Arabs, has scored a victory on its way to implementing its racist slogan of "no loyalty - no citizenship."

The idea that it is possible to blur the Arab community's past consciousness with laws and threats of fines is stupid. The "Nakba" wasn't forgotten in the 62 years since Israel's establishment, and the term is much more familiar and prevalent among Israelis today than in previous generations.

The Palestinian refugees' flight, the destruction of hundreds of Arab villages and the erection of Jewish towns and settlements in their stead are part of Israeli history. It cannot be made to disappear, as the majority's narrative cannot be foisted onto a fifth of Israel's citizens.

The threat of depriving institutions that mark the "Nakba" of state financing is reminiscent of Culture Minister Limor Livnat's complaints against the co-director of the movie "Ajami," Scandar Copti, who said he does not represent Israel.

Like the "Nakba Law" initiators, Livnat too believes that an artist who receives state support is bound to "loyalty" and must represent the state in competitions abroad.

This is the Netanyahu-Lieberman cabinet's spirit - we'll support only those who think like us.
Ha'aretz are right to identify this as "mocking democracy". This bill is insisting that only the Israeli version of history has validity, and that people can be punished for seeing the events of 1948 as anything other than a cause for celebration.

This is idiocy of the highest order. Here in the UK there is a union between the English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish, despite our often bloody past. This bill is the equivalent of telling the Scots that they must celebrate the Highland Clearances, or, at the very least, not commemorate this as a dark day in their calendar.

Rewriting history is shameful enough on it's own; but insisting - by law - that others accept your version of history is an indication of the weakness of your argument, not of it's strength.
The Knesset should be ashamed of passing the law at first reading. The Kadima and Labor factions should be denounced for not opposing it. But it's not too late to block the harmful law in the next readings, before it stains Israel's body of law.
It is shameful that this legislation ever got this far. And, yes, it should be stopped in it's tracks. But, as I've said before, this is simply an indication of just how extreme the coalition formed by Benjamin Netanyahu actually is.

It is with this coalition that Obama is attempting to bring about peace in the Middle East. So, you'll understand why I feel it may very well have to be destroyed if there is to be any chance of him pulling this off.

Click here for full article.

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