Bintel Blog

The Polarizing Effect of the Proposed 'Nakba Law'

By Nathan Jeffay

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So everyone is talking about the two-state solution. Whether you’re on the Israeli side or the Palestinian side, accepting it appears to be the very benchmark of moderation. Apparently that’s not quite how Fatah member Abbas Zaki, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, sees it. “With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse,” he says in this television interview.


Israel is abuzz with discussion about the proposed “nakba law.” Yesterday, the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs approved a bill that would ban events marking the “nakba,” the Arabic word for the events of May 1948 that roughly translates as “catastrophe.”

The bill, unsurprisingly, was initiated by a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, Alex Miller. Equally unsurprisingly, it has provoked condemnation on the left, including among Labor ministers — three of whom have filed an appeal with the government secretariat trying to block it.

Their appeal claims that the proposed law “harms the freedom of expression and freedom of protest, which are the basic principles of a democratic state. This kind of law will increase separatism and estrangement in the society and will strengthen the extremist minority among Israel’s Arabs.”

There was also opposition to the proposed law from some in Likud, including minister Michael Eitan, and ambivalence from Shas.

Interestingly, the opposition to this proposal has been far more marked than when Yisrael Beiteinu lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to ban two Arab parties from contesting the February general election — a move which, as the Forward reported here, was supported across a wide political spectrum.



Comments
Mark Jeffery Koch Thu. May 28, 2009

Like most American Jews who are fervent supporters of Israel I have been disgusted with the support of many Israeli Arabs with suicide bombings that have occurred on Israeli busses, in Israeli restaurants, shopping malls, and supermarkets, and was also totally repulsed by the support an Israeli Arab member of Knesset gave to Hezbollah the summer of 2006 when Hezbollah was launching thousands of missiles at Israeli cities, villages and towns.

What has always made Israel special and a true light unto nations, is that it is a democracy where differences are accepted, where freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and assembly exist like they do here in America, but no where else in the Middle East. For the extreme right wing in Israel to begin enacting laws limiting speech or demand loyalty oaths is something most American Jews cannot and will not support. Some of these right wing Knesset members apparently came from the former Soviet Union where these types of laws were commonplace, but they must never be enacted in the State of Israel.

These laws go against the very heart and soul about what Israel is all about and I hope the Knesset and Israeli public do not surrender to the forces of darkness. The light unto nations will be dimmer if loyalty oaths are mandatory and freedom of speech is limited.

FoodForThought Mon. Jun 1, 2009

Im not sure how those on the left who supported the banning of the Kach Party from government, can now denounce the proposed banning of Nakba events as undemocratic. Just food for thought...

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