The High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday to reject a petition against the
Nakba Law, which enables the finance minister to withhold funds from government-
funded bodies that mark Israel’s Independence Day as a day of
The law, passed in March 2011, also allows the state to deny
funding to public bodies that conduct events that negate “the existence of
Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
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In ruling to reject the
petition, Justice Miriam Naor, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and
Justice Eliezer Rivlin found they could not make any ruling on the petition’s
claims because the Nakba Law had not been implemented and therefore the court
had not been given concrete factual circumstances on which to judge.
petition was filed in May 2011 by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority
Rights and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on behalf of alumni
of the Arab Orthodox School in Haifa. The petitioners argued that the law is
anti-democratic and severely harms the basic rights of Arab Israelis, including
the right to freedom of speech, political and artistic expression, equality,
education, academic freedom and freedom of occupation.
The Arab Orthodox
Alumni organization runs various activities each year, including a discussion
about the identity of the state and the status of Arab citizens. The
organization argued in the petition that some of its activities might contravene
the Nakba Law and thus the school’s budget could suffer.
Also named on
the petition are Ben- Gurion University professor Oren Yiftachel, whose academic
research challenges Israel’s definition as a Jewish and democratic state, and
parents of pupils at the Galil Jewish-Arab school in Misgav, which commemorates
Nakba Day alongside Independence Day.
At the end of the judgement,
Beinisch said she agreed with Naor that the petition raised “complex questions
of public importance.”
“I emphasize that these questions may, in certain
circumstances, get to the roots of the problems dividing Israeli society,”
Beinisch added. “However I accept my honorable friend’s position that this
petition is not ripe for judicial discussion. The constitutionality of the
[Nakba] law depends to a large extent on how its content is interpreted in
practice, and that will be clear only when it is implemented.”
also noted that the petitioners had an alternative to the High Court, and
recommended they turn instead to the Administrative Affairs Court with a request
for a temporary injunction preventing the law from applying to them.
joint press release issued on Thursday, ACRI and Adalah accused the High Court
of ignoring “the chilling effect already caused by the Nakba Law.
the High Court of Justice missed an opportunity to make clear to legislators
that there are limits to their anti-human rights steps, particularly to the
targeting of the human rights of Israel’s Arab population,” the statement added.