Israeli students and MKs clash over controversial Nakba Day ceremony in TA University (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Jonathan Lis and Talila Nesher 05/15/12)
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The controversial Nakba Day ceremony was held on Monday in Tel Aviv
University (TAU), following a heated debate in the Knesset over the
institution´s decision to approve it. Hundreds of people took part in
the event, while right-wing protesters gathered at the University´s
The university approved last week a request to hold a ceremony to
commemorate Nakba Day. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe, and
for Israeli Arabs it marks the anniversary of events leading to
Israel´s independence in 1948. In January, the High Court of Justice
upheld the controversial Nakba Law passed by the Knesset, which
grants the Finance Minister the authority to reduce the budget of
state-funded bodies that openly reject Israel as a Jewish state or
mark the state´s Independence Day as a day of mourning.
TAU approved the ceremony, but required the organizers to provide
funding for the salaries of the six guards securing the event. The
location was also changed due to security reasons, from the social
sciences building to the university´s entrance.
Right-wing activists started gathering by the university´s gates an
hour before it began, with dozens of policeman separating them from
the site. One protester was arrested after knocking over the stage.
Earlier on Monday, the Knesset´s Education Committee held a stormy
session over approval of the ceremony. Right after the debate began,
MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash) left the discussion in protest, because
it was scheduled at the same time as the Knesset Speaker´s meeting of
which he is a member. As he left, MK Miri Regev (Likud) shouted "your
place is in Gaza, not ours."
The quarrels continued after Regev said the session should be
dismissed. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) turned to her and said, "you are
analphabetic. You don´t know what academic freedom is. How low can
you get?" Regev was quick to respond: "You hurt the people of Israel
when you travelled to India saying our weapons are poor; you traitor."
The university´s representative Professor Yoav Ariel said that
their "consideration is quite simple, in accordance with the law and
with the university´s regulations, that allow this sort of event. As
long as no law is broken, the university lets students to hold such
MK Danny Danon (Likud) asked Ariel if the university would have
allowed the ceremony to take place If Yigal Amir´s brother was there,
claiming a terrorist is participating in the event. MK Alex Miller
(Yisrael Beiteinu) asked university representatives if they would
allow holding a memorial for Nazis.
MK Ahmed Tibi said that the students are asking to "commemorate an
important day in their narrative". Turning to the Jewish MKs, Tibi
added: "your people suffered, hold some respect and empathy to the
suffering that you caused."
Education Minister and chairman of the Higher Education Council
Gideon Sa´ar called TAU President Yosef Klafter last week and asked
if the university would reconsider the decision to allow the ceremony
to take place. Sa´ar´s communications adviser said that "the
education minister sees the decision as wrong and outrageous."MK
Miller, who also heads the Knesset´s Education Committee, called the
event a "disgrace" and said that it "is a direct blow to the states
symbols and sovereignty." (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/15/12)
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