Despite wide opposition, students to mark Nakba Day

National Union MKs invite public to join them outside university to celebrate "the day of our enemy's defeat."

By
May 14, 2012 04:23
2 minute read.
Nakba day protesters in Egypt's Tahrir Square

Nakba Day protests_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Students from Tel Aviv University plan to hold a “Nakba Day” ceremony on Monday, despite opposition from fellow students and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud), who called on the university to rethink its decision to hold the event.

An organizer said that the university is requiring the organizers to pay around NIS 1,000 for event security guards, saying this was in keeping with the the “Nakba Law” passed last year – which allows the Finance Minister to fine public bodies that use public funding, if they hold events that mark the founding of the State of Israel as a day of mourning.

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The ceremony marking the “Nakba” – the name for the creation of the Palestinian exodus caused by the founding of the Jewish state, meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic – will be held outside the main gate of the university, after TAU went back on an earlier decision to allow the ceremony outside the Social Sciences building. The university also rescinded an earlier decision to allow the students to use a sound system during the event.

A spokesman for the Education Ministry said Sunday that Sa’ar had spoken to university authorities and asked them to rethink the ceremony, calling the decision to allow it “mistaken and outrageous.”

Dan Walfisch, a 25-year-old history and philosophy major and an organizer of the ceremony, said that the event will include an alternative version of Yizkor, the Jewish prayer of mourning, as well as speakers reading off the names of pre-1948 Palestinian villages within the Green Line, and personal stories told by students whose families were displaced by the war. One master of ceremonies will be former “Big Brother” finalist Saar Szekely, who was known for making pro-Palestinian statements on the reality show.

Walfisch said that as opposed to recent criticism of the event, “it will not include rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Our goal is only to recognize the suffering of the Palestinian people because we see mutual recognition as a condition of having a shared existence in Israel.”

MKs Arye Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union party invited the public to join them on Sunday outside the university, where they will celebrate “the day of our enemy’s defeat,” and called on the public to bring “good wine, uplifting spirits, and musical instruments.”

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The Nakba Day event is being organized by the Hadash party students group, the NGOs Hithabrut- Tarabut and Zochrot, and the “1948 tent,” which was set up on Rothschild Boulevard last summer as a place to speak to passersby about the Nakba and issues facing Arabs in Israel.

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