29 May 2009

Nakba Denial is no different from Holocaust Denial

Not content with having driven ¾ million Palestinian Arabs from their homes and country, Israel’s fascist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, of the Yisrael Beteinu Party has proposed outlawing commemoration of the Nakba.

Just as the far-right and their idiot supporters like Gilad Atzmon like to pretend that the Nazi holocaust never happened [it was a typhus epidemic, there were no gas chambers, it wasn’t 6 million, it's just a narrative among many etc.] in order that they can repeat the trick again, so the Israeli State and the Zionist movement is proposing to make it a crime to commemorate the Nakba.

Why? Because the tragedy of 1947-9 resulted in a ‘Jewish’ State. This is the significance of the new demand on Palestinian quisling, Mahmud Abbas, that he recognise Israel as a Jewish state. What this means of course is overtly accepting that Israel is a racist state.

This new Bill, which may yet be derailed by US pressure and the obvious embarrassment of making fascist erasure of the past into a principle, is one of a number that Israel’s Knesset, has supported in recent years.

There was the Act that forbade Palestinian spouses of Arab citizens of Israel from becoming Israeli citizens or residents. Their only option is to leave Israel. There was the Knesset’s passing of a JNF Bill whose purpose was to enable the overtly racist Jewish National Fund to continue to deny Arabs the use of ‘Jewish’ land after the decision of the High Court in the Kad'an case that the JNF, effectively a governmental organisation, couldn't discriminate any longer. Now even the very act of remembrance is to be outlawed. Not that this should be any surprise in the Middle East’s ‘only democracy’. It was only last Saturday that the Israeli Police were used to disband a Palestinian Cultural Festival. Clearly Goebbels book burners would have had a feast under their fellow Lieberman.

Tony Greenstein

Knesset okays initial bill to outlaw denial of 'Jewish state'

By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent

The Knesset plenum gave initial approval on Wednesday to a bill that would make it a crime to publicly deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, punishable by a sentence of up to a year in prison.

The measure was the latest of several introduced in the past week by right-wing lawmakers and denounced by critics as an assault on free speech, particularly for Israeli Arab citizens, most of whom are of Palestinian origin.

It would outlaw the publication of any "call to negate Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state, where the content of such publication would have a reasonable possibility of causing an act of hatred, disdain or disloyalty" to Israel.

Forty-seven MKs voted in favor of the bill and 34 voted against, with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) abstaining from the vote.

MK Zevulun Orlev, a lawmaker with the right-wing Bayit Hayehudi party who initiated the bill, said the bill permitted a maximum one year prison term for any offenders.

The measure would have to pass three additional votes in parliament and a committee review before becoming law.

Orlev linked the bill to the case of former MK Azmi Bishara, who resigned from the Knesset and fled Israel in 2007 to avoid charges of assisting the enemy. Bishara was under fire then for a series of trips he had made to Syria and Lebanon, where he issued praise for Hezbollah.

Orlev said Bishara's case shows that what begins with words "very quickly leads to actions."

MK Haim Oron (Meretz) attacked the proposal, saying "this insane government, what exactly are you doing? Creating a thought police? Have you run off the rails?"

Oron said that even though he disagrees with those who do not support Israel's identity as a Jewish, democratic state, there is no reason to make it a criminal issue.

Civil rights activists have cautioned that this and other legislation threatens to curb the rights of Arab citizens.

Its approval on a preliminary reading showed how Israeli support for laws seen as targetting Israeli Arabs has grown since a right-wing government was sworn in after a February election.

Most Israeli Arabs, who make up about a fifth of Israel's population, are descended from Palestinians who remained in the country after hundreds of thousands either fled or were driven away in fighting over Israel's founding in 1948.

Many are related to Palestinians in conflict with Israel living in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank.

Naomi Chazan, president of the liberal New Israel Fund, denounced a bill approved by Israel's cabinet on Sunday to outlaw public displays of mourning over Israel's birth, which Palestinians call "nakba", an Arabic word for catastrophe.

Chazan called that bill an "attempt to trample on the feelings of pain of Israeli Arabs" that could hurt efforts to forge better coexistence between Jews and Palestinians.

Another bill introduced by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu Party this week would require Israeli citizens to take a loyalty oath to the Jewish state before they could be issued a national identity card.

The cabinet was scheduled to debate the loyalty oath measure at a session next week.

`Their independence is our Nakba`

Press Release `Israeli Law Banning al Nakba Commemoration`
May 26, 2009

The Israeli ministerial legal commission has approved on 24/5/2009 a draft bill to prohibit the commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba. The law includes a penalty of up to three years of imprisonment for any breaches of the prohibition.

In reaction to this draft law, Ittijah- Union of Arab Community Based Associations, states that al Nakba is one of the biggest crimes committed against a population in the twentieth century; this year we commemorate 61 years of occupation of our lands on which Israel was established.

Al Nakba commemoration holds within it the Palestinian plight and struggle for Liberation. The Palestinian right to return and realization of our people’s collective rights are still ongoing, unstoppable and no legislation can challenge that.

We condemn the draft law and its legislators and call for its immediate annulment.

We call the Palestinian masses to continue and insist on the commemoration al Nakba under the banner: ‘Their independence is our Nakba’. It is our historical memory and the greatest proof of Israel being a colonial regime.

Ameer Makhoul
General Director
Ittijah - Union of Arab Community Based Associations
(UN ECOSOC Special Consultative Status)
P.O.Box 9577 Haifa 31095
tel: +972 4 8507110
Fax: +972 4 8507241
Mob: +972 54 4862171

A history of discrimination
By Yitzhak Laor

Every year since Israel's independence, cinema newsreels, and later television news, have reported to the public on "the heads of Muslim, Christian and Druze communities congratulating the president in honor of Independence Day." It was the age of patriotic innocence, coupled with national blindness.

Over those years, Independence Day has been foisted in various ways on the Palestinians who remained in their land.

Military governors would allow their subjects to leave their enclaves for picnics on the remnants of their villages, if those were not already inhabited by new Jewish immigrants.

That which was prohibited all year was allowed for one day, so they could be allowed to celebrates on their own ruins.

Behind the blindness always lurked cynicism: We will discriminate against them in every possible field - education, health, water, infrastructure, employment - and they in turn will kiss the national flag across their 200 villages and towns.

If they protest against discrimination, we'll cry "disorder."

With the state's founding, three percent of its land was allocated to Arabs, of which only two percent was slated for housing, and only after the major expropriations of the 1950s and a series of convoluted land and property laws essentially prohibiting Arabs from acquiring land.

"Natural growth" was never used as justification for expanding their villages outside their borders, drawn up when their total population numbered 150,000, and erecting new settlements was, of course, out of the question.

Today, a million people have become locked in villages and towns described by their young generation as ghettos.

Only one not familiar with the Arab minority's hardships - growing poverty, growing racism around them, quotas in mixed cities, and municipally-encouraged religious and yuppie Jewish settlement in Jaffa despite the protestations of the Arab poor - can fail to understand that such "patriotic" proposals as a bill banning Nakba Day commemorations, even if not enforced, is a pretext for more incitement towards Arabs and interference in their political and cultural lives.

The 1952 Nationality Law not only granted conditions to new immigrants far more favorable than to the remaining Arab inhabitants, but also hastily (perhaps too hastily) granted electoral rights to an enormous proportion of the population - without requiring residence (as required in every country in which electoral privileges are universal), or even checking the background of hundreds of thousands of new immigrants.

The state was consumed with settling a single score: what was "ours," and what was not - namely, a demographic majority and land.

Avigdor Lieberman - the strong man cut down to his natural size the moment the Israeli agenda changed from electoral propaganda to the Egypt-Israel and U.S.-Israel diplomatic tracks - is again looking for his way, and may even be planning his resignation from the government, in order to serve as a fighting opposition through resorting to the well-worn tactic of "The homeland is in danger, beat the Arabs."

But Lieberman is not alone, and his Russian immigrant electorate will not be enough to reach power. He speaks to the fundamental Israeli racism, according to which "we are the landlords, and you are short-term guests."

This abomination is important to Israeli democracy, but whoever deludes himself that it will be possible to cover up the reality of Arabs in Israel through prolonged silence is doing the groundwork for a thug to come and "restore order."

For that, of course, we will need draconian legislation and "disorder."

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