In a law condemned by rights advocates as racist, revisionist and divisive, the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) voted Wednesday to prevent any commemorations of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) in which historic Palestine was divided in half, with half of the land taken to create the state of Israel.Instead, the 20% of the Israeli population who are indigenous Palestinians will be required to celebrate Israel’s ‘independence day’, which is the day in 1947 when the Zionist movement declared a state of Israel on the land of historic Palestine.
The Nakba law, once implemented, will make it illegal for public bodies, or agencies that receive funding from the State of Israel, to claim that Israel should not be a Jewish state, and that the practices of the government are not democratic.
Furthermore the commemoration of “Nakba Day”, the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, following the Yishuv’s ethnic cleansing of the majority of indigenous Palestinians from what became Israel, has also been made illegal.
A second law passed during the late night session of the Israeli Knesset also drew criticism from human rights groups. That law will allow Israeli housing developments in the Negev and Galilee to discriminate against potential new residents on the basis of ethnicity and economic status.
The so-called ‘Admission Committees Law’ will face a lawsuit from at least two human rights groups in Israel, who say that they hope to have the law overturned by the Israeli High Court.
One of the human rights groups filing the lawsuit, the Abraham Fund, said “This law establishes a mechanism of ethnic segregation between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, under the auspices of the Knesset.”
The group also criticized the Nakba Bill, saying, “Knesset members are mistaken to think that one can force the Arab minority to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. It is important to allow Arab citizens to learn about and acknowledge their painful past. It is also important that mutual understanding of the other’s historical narrative exists between the Jews and Arabs in Israel.”