On March 16th the so-called ‘softened’ Nakba Law, proposed by Yisrael Beitenu, passed its first reading in the Knesset (on the same day that a law allowing civil marriage to take place was passed). Ynet reports that “According to the bill, the finance minister will be authorized to decrease the budget for bodies receiving government funding if they are found responsible for activities denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, instances of racial incitement, violence or terrorism, or provide support for armed struggle or terrorism against the country.
Among the activities forbidden by the ‘Nakba law’ are marking Independence Day and the founding of Israel with mourning ceremonies and vandalizing or physical disdain towards the flag and State symbols.”
MKs from Meretz and United Arab List-Ta’al expressed outrage at this first passing of the Law, with Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron saying, “Israel’s government nips at democracy on a weekly basis and bombards us with laws whose entire purpose is to drastically limit the parameters of the public discourse.”
And, in response, Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who lives in Jerusalem wrote this (which I read via New Profile):
I will mourn on Nakba Day
Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Sakharov Human Rights Prize laureate, member of Bereaved
Families for Peace and a co-initiator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine
I will mourn on Nakba Day. I will mourn for vanished Palestine most of which I never
knew. I will mourn for the holy land that is losing its humanity, its landscape, its
beauty and its children on the altar of racism and evil. I will mourn for the Jewish
youngsters who invade and desecrate the homes of families in Chikh Jarakh, throw the
inhabitants into the street, and then sing and dance in memory of Baruch Goldstein,
the infamous murderer of Palestinian children, while the owners of the desecrated
houses with their children and old people are sleeping in the rain, on the street,
opposite their own homes. I will mourn for the soldiers and police who protect those
wicked Jewish orthodox invaders without any pangs of conscience. I will mourn for
the lands of Bil’in and Ni’lin and for the heroes of Bil’in and Ni’lin, many of whom
are children aged 10 and 12, who fearlessly stand up for their right to live in
dignity on the land of their fathers. I will mourn for the human rights that have
been buried for a long time now in this country, for the blood that is dispensable
with impunity, for the killings committed with blessings, for the mendacious Zionist
myth on which I was educated and for the crushed Palestinian narrative that is
forbidden to express itself but the truth of which has returned and the green shoots
of which are poking out through the weeds and the racist laws.
I will mourn for the former Minister of Education, Livnat, who defended the law
against mourning on Nakba day saying: “If they have nothing to mourn over they will
have no reason to rebel,” Words worthy of the worst of our adversaries and the most
wicked of colonialists.
I will mourn for all of us who do not know what to do in the face of a law that is
pure ruthlessness, one of dozens of racist laws that are in the process of assuming
places of honour – if not all the places – in the statute-books of the democratic
Jewish State. I will mourn for the democracy in this country, half of whose
subjects live in conditions that are forbidden even for beasts in other democratic
I will mourn for the children. Those who have died. Those who will die tomorrow.
Those who can no longer live here, and those who are living here like monsterous
golems that have turned on their creators,whose identity is shaped by fear, evil,
racism, the twisted love of a land that is not theirs, hatred for all that is not in
their image and an insatiable appetite for killing.
I will mourn on Nakba Day. And also on the day that precedes it which we call
Remembrance Day and which is nothing but a day dedicated to the cult of dead flesh,
at the end of which everyone goes out and grills another kind of dead flesh on open
flames, sings, dances, overeats and gets drunk. I will mourn for our Independence
Day that is nothing but a celebration of the triumph of closure and subjugation.
All these things I will mourn on Nakba Day. I will join the millions of dispossessed, downtrodden and humiliated who have not given up on the future and who still believe there is a chance, who stand as witnesses and as firebrands of the true human spirit.
I will mourn on Nakba Day in order to be worthy of them, so that my children will
know which side I am on, and so that they too can believe there is a chance for hope
and a future in which justice will prevail.
Translated from Hebrew by George Malent.