Badil Resource Center [3 March 2010] – The Israeli parliamentary Law Committee has recently approved a law proposal the (“Nakba bill”) that, if passed by the Knesset, would impose economic sanctions on the organizers of Nakba commemorations. Every year in May, Palestinians and supporters of their right of return commemorate the Nakba of 1948, which marks the single most traumatic and far-reaching event in the long and ongoing process of forced displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel. Nakba commemorations are important events in Israel, where some 335,000 Palestinians, citizens of Israel, continue to be denied their right to return to their homes, lands and communities, and are forced to live as internally displaced persons within their own country.
Palestinian citizens of Israel have experienced the Nakba (an Arabic word meaning catastrophe) not only in 1948 but every day since then. The “ongoing Nakba” is caused by Israel's system of institutionalized racial discrimination which is composed of laws, policies and practices that have resulted in second-class citizen status of Palestinians, more land confiscation, discriminatory development planning, segregation of Palestinian communities, home demolitions and forced evictions, in order to ensure Jewish privilege and domination. Forcible displacement of Palestinian citizens continues as result, in particular in the Naqab (Negev), the Galilee and in towns with a 'mixed' Jewish and Palestinian population. Every aspect of Palestinian citizens’ life is affected by Israel's system of institutionalized racial discrimination, including an education system that has worked to deprive Palestinian students of knowledge of their history and identity.
The proposed “Nakba bill” forbids government-supported organizations from spending money on activities that commemorate the Nakba, and will deduct as much as ten times the amount of money they spent on such activities from their budget. In effect, the bill requires that Palestinian citizens of Israel deny their history and identity, and identify with “Zionist values” that negate their Palestinian national identity. It requires that Palestinians sanction their own historical dispossession and accept their current status as second-class citizens in the “Jewish state” and their detachment from the Palestinian people.
The Knesset prepares to discuss the Nakba bill at a time when it has already passed another law that declares all Jews who have immigrated to Israel from Arab countries to be refugees. This law, similar to an earlier resolution passed by the U.S. Congress, was passed in an attempt to cloud and undermine the quest for rights-based solutions for the Palestinian refugees. It aims to distract from the fact that the individual and collective rights of refugees are not a matter of a trade-off but to be examined on the merits of each case. As with all refugees, including Palestinian refugees, Jewish persons who are refugees under international law, must not be denied their right to return to their places of origin.
In the 62nd year of the Palestinian Nakba, BADIL calls upon the international community to condemn Israel's Nakba bill and to hold Israel accountable to its obligations under international law, including its obligation to respect, protect and promote the right of all displaced Palestinians to return to their homes of origin as part of reparations.