Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar asked Tel Aviv University President Professor
Joseph Klaftner over the weekend to reconsider his decision to allow students to
organize an “outrageous” on-campus ceremony to commemorate Nakba Day.
Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic, is an annual commemoration when Arabs
mourn the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. The Palestinian narrative
recounts how hundreds of thousands of Arabs were either forced or felt compelled
to leave behind their homes, with many fleeing to Israel’s neighboring countries
where they remain until this day.
TAU announced this week that it would
allow students to organize a Nakba Day commemoration under certain provisions,
including hiring six school security guards to monitor the day’s events. The
school administration also prohibited organizers from using a PA system and
hanging flags and banners.
Speaking with the university president, Sa’ar
said he thought the university’s decision to allow the ceremony was “false and
outrageous,” Army Radio reported.
Students organizing the event said the
commemoration would include a moment of silence to emphasize the importance of
the Palestinian day of mourning, which falls on the day after the Gregorian date
of Israel’s independence.
The event at TAU’s Antine Square is scheduled
for May 14.
In addition, organizers will read an alternative version of
“Yizkor,” the prayer for Israel’s fallen soldiers traditionally read at memorial
TAU approved the students’ ceremony despite the Nakba Law,
passed in the Knesset last year and upheld by the High Court of Justice in
January, which allows the finance minister to cut the budget of any state-funded
institution or body that holds events that mark the Jewish state’s independence
as a day of mourning.
Tel Aviv University responded that the decision to allow the Nakba Day activities is in accordance with the law and university regulations.