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Thursday, September 8, 2011

AIC: Together Against Those Who Deny the Naqba

Tuesday, 02 June 2009 17:59

The proposed law of Knesset Member Alex Miller and his friends from the Israel Beitenu party was adopted by the government. According to this proposal, the conduct of events or public activities commemorating the Naqba are prohibited, the punishment for which will be up to three years imprisonment.

MK Zevulon Orlev (Jewish Home party) submitted a proposal that he considers even better: one year imprisonment for anyone publishing a statement negating the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, if according to the content of the statement there exists a reasonable proposal that the call or publication will result in “the conduct of an act of hatred, contempt or disloyalty to the state or state or judicial authorities legally established.”

Pay attention to the second part: it also concerns what citizens are supposed to feel. They cannot feel hatred or contempt toward the discriminatory state authorities, the settlers and against those who dispossess. Citizens are required to believe in a discredited belief: that Israel can be “Jewish” as defined by law, i.e. the sole possession of one people amongst the people in this area, with extra rights and which sentences the minority to an existence of structural discrimination – and yet amazingly democratic.

MK David Rotem (Israeli Beitenu), Chairperson of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, did not remain outside of the game. He wants to demand a statement of loyalty to the state as a condition for receiving citizenship. According to his proposal, “one wishing citizenship will be obligated to a statement according to which he commits himself to be loyal to the state of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, to its symbols and values and to serve the state, as is required in military or alternative service.” Due to his overexcitement, Rotem mistakenly allowed the truth out: he declares the state “Zionist”, a state belonging not to its citizens and not even to the Jews within it, but to an international political and settlement movement, to a certain ideological stream.

The immediate goal of these proposals is to frighten: to teach Palestinian citizens to bow their heads, to be afraid to express themselves and their pain, to protest. The proposal prohibiting commemoration of the Naqba can pass the current right-wing Knesset; perhaps it will be stricken down by the High Court, perhaps the government will back down from it – but there is no reason to rely on or be happy about this. This concept must be defeated in practice, on the street: in an assured and proud violation of this discriminatory and illegitimate legislation by Arab and Jewish citizens. The proposals to prevent citizenship to one not recognizing the state of Israel as Jewish and Zionist must challenge those already holding citizenship, including Jewish citizens! – who do not wish to live in a regime with extra privileges, in a tribal ethnocracy but desire a democratic state belonging to its two peoples and who understand that those who legislate such laws will also legislate laws against those opposing the functioning of the state as a bureaucracy serving a handful of capitalists. All who spoil the celebrations of the elites will be targeted in a state in which everyone must be happy!

While the right-wing ministers are attempting to enforce Naqba denial, to impose organized forgetfulness, 1948 continues to be with us, and not simply as a memory. The Naqba is not only an event that ended, of which we must be reminded. It is an ongoing process. For as long as colonialisation and dispossession continue, for as long as state institutions and the Zionist movement continue to hold stolen property and to employ it to Judaise the surroundings, the process continues. The Naqba is with us, here and now: it is in Jaffa. The systematic Judaisation of Jaffa is indeed the completion of a partial process that commenced more than sixty years ago. It is grounded in the weakening of the Palestinian residents of Jaffa, the majority of whom are dependent since 1948 on the good will of the housing authorities who hold their apartments.

In the most vitriolic manner the Naqba is happening today, now, between Omer and Omra, between one of the richest areas in Israel and the people of the Tarabin al Sanaa. In 1950 the state of Israel forced them to move to the Omra area, in the framework of the transfer of the captive Arab population of the Negev that did not become refugees. Today, in order to expand a new neighborhood in Omer, the Head of the Regional Council, Pini Dabash, together with his friends (Badash is a former Tzomet member and now close to Liberman) wants to move the people of Omra, Under pressure a majority of them agreed to move to the area of Rahat. Others, however, are sticking to their land. The system of aggrevation of the Israeli police is employed against them: checkpoints and searches, detentions and examinations. Their demand: to become a neighbourhood of Omer, which is formally defined as an agricultural settlement, or to receive the lands from which they were deported in 1950. The big iron gate currently separating Omer and Omra is an apartheid gate.

This is not all. In these very days a huge land deal is being formulated, through which the government is attempting via the Arrangements Law to transfer hundreds of thousands of dunams of land from the Israeli Lands Administration to the Jewish National Fund (JNF). These lands are not empty: they are Bedouin lands on which tens of “unrecognized” villages are located. The state of Israel denies the rights of these villages and after transferring the lands to the JNF, will contend that they are property of the JNF and the Jewish people, and it is therefore forbidden to turn them over to Arabs. Representatives from the Regional Council of Unrecognised Villages protested this, and MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) raised this on the public agenda.

In parallel, the JNF is supposed to transfer to the state tens of thousands of dunams from Israel’s greater Tel Aviv area. This ‘barter’ has been on the cards for the past two years and its primary goal is to prevent the practical annulment of the racist regulations according to which the JNF does not lease properties to Arabs.

These lands also did not drop out of the sky: more than half of the lands of the JNF, and in practice this number is much higher, were confiscated from Palestinian refugees. They were transferred to the state of Israel and Israel, in huge deals conducted between 1948-1953, transferred them to the JNF in order to wash its hands and contend that these stolen lands are not in its possession.

The laundering of the huge post 1948 theft continues today with this huge land deal, initiated several years ago by Knesset members from the Right.

Those who deny the memory of the Naqba are currently busy perpetuating it. The struggle against those who ‘forget’ must be combined with the struggle of those who perpetuate it today – to halt the process of settlement and dispossession, for an historical compromise between the peoples of this land, a compromise that can be founded solely on a measure of justice, the halting of colonialisation and a correction of its injustices, including:

  • An annulment of all laws, regulations and institutions continuing the colonial process and which discriminate on an ethnic basis (regulations for times of emergency, land laws, state connections with the JNF, the Jewish Agency, the laws of citizenship, etc.)
  • To fix to the extent possible the historical injustices caused by the colonialisation process: restoring land rights, returning refugees, fulfillment of refugee rights, a redistribution of resources, affirmative action in budgets and a promotion of Arab and Arab-Jewish culture.

This article appeared in Hebrew in the website of Tarabut, a social-political movement in Israel. Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

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