Uri Avnery writes: On May 15, the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, its Arab citizens observed a day of mourning for the victims of the Naqba (“catastrophe”) – the mass exodus of half the Palestinian people from the territory which became Israel.
Like every year, this aroused much fury. Tel Aviv University allowed Arab students to hold a meeting, which was attacked by ultra-right Jewish students. Haifa University forbade the meeting altogether. Some years ago the Knesset debated a “Naqba Law” that would have sent commemorators to prison for three years. This was later moderated to the withdrawal of government funds from institutions that mention the Naqba.
The Only Democracy in the Middle East may well be the only democracy in the world that forbids its citizens to remember a historical event. Forgetting is a national duty.
Trouble is, it’s hard to forget the history of the “Palestinian issue”, because it dominates our life. 65 years after the foundation of Israel, half the news in our media concern this one issue, directly or indirectly.
Just now, the South African government has decreed that all products of the West Bank settlements sold there must be clearly marked. This measure, already in force in Europe, was roundly condemned by our Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as “racist” (looks who’s talking!). However, it joins a boycott initiated 15 years ago by my Israeli friends and me. [Continue reading…]