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May 25, 2009

The Israelis have now declared awar not just on Palestine, but on memory itself!

Anger over Palestinian Nakba ban proposal:BBC

Israeli campaigners and left-wing lawmakers have condemned moves to ban Israeli Arabs from marking the Nakba – the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation. On Sunday a government panel backed putting the bill, proposed by the party of far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, before the Israeli Knesset. A Labour minister opposed it; Hadash, a mainly Arab party, called it “racist”. Some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes in the 1948 war after Israel declared independence. About 20% of Israel’s population are descended from Arab citizens of British Mandate Palestine who remained on the territory that became Israel.
Strengthening unity
Along with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and around the world, Israeli Arabs mark the yearly Nakba anniversary on 15 May with mourning and commemoration events. Israelis celebrate their Independence Day, marking the creation of their state, at the same time of year, although according to the Hebrew calendar. Under the proposed legislation, people caught marking the Nakba could be jailed for up to three years.
Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu, says the bill is “intended to strengthen unity in the state of Israel”. The Hadash MK Hanna Swaid called it “racist and immoral” and “a fierce insult on democratic and political rights”. Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, said it “could impair freedom of expression and freedom of protest and achieve the opposite goal – increasing alienation and strengthening extremists”.
He is a member of the Labour party, which is part of the right-leaning governing coalition, together with Yisrael Beiteinu party and led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Legitimate right
Correspondents say that although there have been unsuccessful attempts to introduce similar bills in the past, the right-wing make-up of the current government gives this one more chance of passing – although it has many hurdles to clear yet.
An Israeli rights organisation, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, (Acri) said the committee’s initial approval of the bill was “a sign of a democracy losing its bearings”.
“Marking the Nakba does not threaten the safety of the State of Israel, but is rather a legitimate and fundamental human right of any person, group or people, expressing grief at the face of a disaster they experienced,” said Acri president Sammi Michael.
Mr Lieberman’s party also wants to introduce a loyalty pledge, which would demand that Israeli-Arabs swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish, Zionist and democratic” state, before they can be issued with their ID papers. Israel Beiteinu spokesman Tal Nahum said the measure would be discussed by the cabinet on Sunday and the first parliamentary vote would be the following Wednesday. Avigdor Lieberman raised concerns during Israeli military operations in Gaza in January and December that some Israeli-Arabs were opening expressing sympathy with Hamas – which controls Gaza and which launches militant attacks on Israel and which, in its charter, is sworn to the state’s destruction.

The Big Questions: “Is Israel Racist”: BBC1

Last Sunday, Selma James and me had to defend this judgement, despite the programme beinga crude setup, and the presenter clearly supportive of Israel. To watch the debate, use the link above.

Israel: ‘No need to finish’ W Bank barrier: BBCwall 4

Israel began building the barrier several years ago

Israel began building the barrier several years ago

The head of Israel’s security service has said there is no security reason for continuing construction of Israel’s barrier through the West Bank.

Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told a parliamentary committee that Israel had enough capabilities to prevent attacks from the Palestinian territory.
Since building began years ago, Israel has maintained that it is a security measure to keep out attackers. Palestinians reject this, seeing it as a land grab. The UN has criticised Israel, citing an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice that parts of the barrier built inside Palestinian territory in the West Bank – 90% of the route – are contrary to international law.
Gaza attacks
Meanwhile, Israeli police say a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza has landed in the town of Sderot, causing damage but no casualties.
Several people were treated for shock after the rocket struck the backyard of a house. It was one of very few rockets launched from Gaza in recent weeks.   Israeli security officials have said the Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, is trying to maintain a truce so it can re-arm following Israel’s offensive earlier this year. Later, Israeli forces were reported to have bombed an area on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, hours after the Sderot attack. It was apparently targeted at tunnels which Israel says are used to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

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