Israel to make history a crime

May 30, 2009

The rightward shift of the apartheid Israeli state has continued with a new law proposed that would make it a crime to commemorate the founding of the Israeli state as al Nakba (the catastrophe — which is how Palestinians remember the event).

Another law would make loyalty to the concept of Israel as a specifically Jewish state a condition of citizenship — essentially making Palestinians in Israel accept second-class status or be stripped of citizenship.

A Knesset (Israel parliament) deputy for the left-wing Hadesh party, Afo Agbaria, told the May 25 Jerusalem Post: "The state of Israel has declared jihad on the Arab population. Israel is gradually becoming an apartheid state.

"I won't be surprised if in the future the Netanyahu-Lieberman government imposes additional restrictions on Arab citizens, including forbidding the use of the Arabic language."

The Knesset is set to pass a law making public remembrance of the Palestinian ethnic cleansing that accompanied the establishment of Israel illegal.

Every year, Palestinians mourn al Nakba as part of remembering the injustices committed against them since Israel's founding in 1948.

According to the bill, those found in violation could face up to three years in prison.

The bills initiator, Alex Miller from foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, said the law aimed to prevent "Palestinian incitement".

He said it was an "act of self-defence".

The law has divided the Zionist (committed to Israel as a Jewish state) parties over whether it is appropriate for a country claiming to be a democracy. However, the law has already passed its first reading.

Left-Zionist Meretz party chairperson Chaim Oron told the Knesset on May 24: "Have you lost your confidence in the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state?

"This crazy government — what exactly are you doing? Thought Police? Have you lost it?

"Israel's citizens have the right to say that they believe Jewish and democratic is an incorrect wording. I think they are wrong, but what does this have to do with the criminals area?"

Following the initial vote, an argument between a deputy from the Palestinian party Balad, Jamal Zahalka, and the far-right National Union deputy Arie Eldad, lead to Zahalka's removal from the Knesset, said on May 24.

Zahalka told on May 24: "This is a crazy law by a crazy government. Passing a law that bans grief and mourning is an international precedent and an Israeli invention which indicates (moral) bankruptcy.

"We will find a way to mark Nakba Day in spite of Netanyahu and Lieberman's insane government."
A motion to amend the citizenship law will require all Israeli citizens of Israel to either serve in the military or, for Palestinians inside Israel, to perform alternate service.

Palestinian citizens of Israel are barred from serving in the military.

Israel's oath of allegiance is also proposed to be changed to include the sentence: "I pledge to be loyal to the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, to its symbols and values, and serve the state, as required, in military service, or alternative service, as stated by the law."

Unwillingness to sign onto this oath could mean one year in jail, the withholding of identity cards and the denial of citizenship.

The loyalty test will be applied by a ruling on whether an incident "may lead to acts of hatred, scorn or lack of loyalty to the state or its government authorities or law systems which have been established legally."

Palestinian party United Arab List-Ta'al Knesset deputy Ahmad Tibi told in response to the bill: "We will not recognise a Jewish and Zionist Israel despite the draconian law, even if we pay a personal price.

"This coalition will soon propose a law banning expressing shock over the occupation and calling for a penalty of five years in prison for anyone expressing such shock."

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.