Pro-Israel students counter Nakba Day at Tel Aviv University

Arab-Israeli students decried the 'catastrophe' of 1948 while Jewish-Israeli students celebrated the founding of the State of Israel at Tel Aviv University.

A poster shown at the Nakba Day commemorations in Tel Aviv University (photo credit: IM TIRTZU)
A poster shown at the Nakba Day commemorations in Tel Aviv University
(photo credit: IM TIRTZU)
The Im Tirtzu student organization held a pro-Israel counter rally against the annual Nakba Day protest at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday, the group announced. The students played Hebrew music, flew Israeli flags, and distributed free beverages.
Meters away, the annual Nakba Day demonstration took place in which students waved Palestinian Authority flags. Nakba means catastrophe in Arabic and is celebrated every year on May 15th, the day after the declaration of the State of Israel. In 1948 the British left and Israel became independence. Surrounding Arab countries invaded, starting what is called the War of Independence which lasted until 1949.

Nakba Day rallies were held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem which saw an Im Tirtzu counter rally as well. "The fact that Israeli universities provide a platform for those who mourn the failed attempt to annihilate the Jews shows the backwards state of Israeli academia," stated Matan Peleg, the head of Im Tirtzu. His group added that their pro-Israel rally was not officially authorized by the university and took place at Entin gate, just outside the main entrance to the campus as it has in previous years.
"If the Jewish community in Israel would've lost the war, the Holocaust would have been continued by Haj Amin al-Husseini and his antisemitic thugs," Peleg said, referring to the Mufti of Jerusalem who became an ally of Adolf Hitler during World War II.
The student group distributed books titled "The Jewish People's Rights to the Land of Israel," and held a giant poster with the words "Nakba nonsense."
Nakba Day supporters say they are commemorating the displacement of Arabs who either fled or left voluntarily from what was then the British mandate of Palestine amid the violence that accompanied the War of Independence.
Muhammad Barakei, the leader of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee and former Hadash party chairman, told The Jerusalem Post after the 2016 Nakba Day rally that there needs to be “justice, to fix the suffering and the ethnic cleansing."
MK Ayman Odeh and other prominent Arab-Israeli leaders have participated in the TAU Nakba Day protests in the past. Im Tirtzu has also held counter rallies at past Nakba events and in 2016 displayed a large inflatable Pinocchio doll to highlight "Nakba lies."
Peleg called the event an "obscene historical distortion" and said it undermined the existence of the State of Israel.
The Council for Higher Education reported in 2018 that students of Arab heritage studying at Israeli universities grew by 78.5% during the past seven years. There were 759 Israeli Arab doctoral students in 2018, up from 355 in 2008, with a 90% in the past decade in the number of Arab students studying toward a master’s degree.
On Wednesday, over 60 Gaza residents were injured and several fires broke out in Israel's south during protests marking Nakba Day along the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
The IDF said around 10,000 residents of the Hamas controlled enclave burned tires and threw stones and explosive devices toward troops. In addition, a number of attempts by Gazans to approach the security fence were identified by troops, who used riot control measures against the rioters.
Several incendiary balloons were launched from the blockaded coastal enclave into the South, sparking nine fires in agricultural fields outside of the border communities, including Sokeda, Nahal Oz and Alumim.
Hundreds of additional Border Police officers were deployed in Jerusalem and crossing between Israel and Palestinian Authority controlled areas in anticipation of Nakba Day violence.

Hundreds in Ramallah marched from the grave of former Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat.