shuafat riots goats 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Consultations between MK Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) and the Justice
Ministry have yielded a far more draconian “Naqba” bill than the one
which the Knesset plenum approved in preliminary reading, it emerged
Tuesday during a Knesset Law Committee meeting.
met to approve the draft of the bill for first reading after Miller,
who initiated the legislation, met with Justice Ministry officials to
hammer out a mutually acceptable proposal.
chairman, MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), made it clear that the
proposal would be moderated after being approved by the Knesset plenum
and sent back to the committee to prepare it for its final readings.
bill forbids government-funded or government-supported organizations
from spending money on activities that, among other things, mark
Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning.
organization which is found to have spent money on “Naqba”
commemorations or other activities specified in the bill can have as
much as 10 times the amount of money that it spent deducted from its
budget, according to the draft which is to be presented to the Knesset
Originally, Miller proposed a much harsher bill which
determined that any “Naqba” commemoration declaring that Israel’s
victory in the1948 War of Independence and the establishment of the
state was a catastrophe constituted a criminal offense punishable by up
to three years in prison.
The bill was originally approved by
the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. However, a strong public
outcry convinced Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to demand far-reaching
changes in the legislation.
Miller proposed a new bill on July
7, 2009 which entirely eliminated the possibility of a prison sentence,
did not render it illegal to mark the “Naqba” on Independence Day, but
ordered the state to financially penalize organizations that did so
using state funding. The new bill did not stipulate how large the
penalty should be.
According to the current draft of the bill,
any state-financed or state-supported organization will be financially
penalized it if conducts an activity that:
• denies the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, or
• commemorates Independence Day or the day of the establishment of the state as a day of mourning, or
• supports armed struggle or an act of terrorism against the state of Israel, or
• incites to racism, violence or terrorism, or
• causes injury to the honor of the flag or the symbol of the state by an act that causes humiliation or physical damage.
bill authorizes the Finance Minister to deduct from the budget of any
organization that commits any of the above acts in consultation with
the minister responsible for the organization and upon the
recommendation of a committee of civil servants who examine the
activity. The minister must grant a hearing to the suspected
organization before taking measures.
Haneen Zoabi (Balad)
charged that the law forced Israeli Arabs to choose between their
history and personal identities, and the state they live in.
“This is a political law,” she charged. “It has nothing to do with the budget.”
Zoabi also charged that the sponsors of the bill were trying to impose their own political ideology by turning it into a law.
“And don’t tell me that if I don’t like it here I can leave,” she
continued. “I have the right to be here and to have a good life here.”
The legal adviser of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Dan Yakir, also spoke out against the bill.
“The members of the law committee made a mockery of Israeli democracy
when they decided for us what we may and may not talk about and, in
essence, supported a bill meant to silence unpopular statements,” he
said. “The bill inflicts mortal damage on the right of Israeli Arabs to
preserve their cultural and national identity.”
Bar-Ilan University Professor Ariel Ben-Dor told the committee that the
bill should not prohibit the activities that it lists but declare that
state funding will be deducted for such an activity in accordance with
how much the organization spent. He also said the possibility of
deducting 10 times the value of the expenditure was disproportionate.