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  May 14, 2011

Israelis Defy Nakba Law on Independence Day

On the 63rd Israeli Independence Day, Israelis defy the ban on mourning the Nakba in the heart of Tel Aviv
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At the end of March, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed the Nakba Law. The version that passed the third reading states that any body that receives government funding, such as schools, can be fined for commemorating the Nakba on the Israeli Day of Independence. The Nakba means "Catastrophe" in Arabic and refers to the 1948 war, the result of which was the depopulation of two thirds of the Palestinian population, which today numbers millions of refugees. To this day many still hold the keys to their original homes, but are not allowed to return. In defiance of the law, the Israeli organization Zochrot (Hebrew, feminine "we remember"), posted a sign with the law in German throughout the core of Tel Aviv where thousands celebrated. Within minutes, police surrounded the Zochorot office.


LIA TARACHANSKY, TRNN: On May 9, Israelis poured onto the streets throughout the country to celebrate the 63rd Day of Independence. At the end of March, the Israeli Parliament passed the controversial Nakba Law, part of numerous laws termed antidemocratic by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. This law states that government-funded bodies such as schools are to be fined for commemorating the Nakba on the Day of Independence. In protest, an Israeli organization named Zochrot decided to do just that, by posting a sign stating the new law in German in the heart of Tel Aviv during the celebrations.

EITAN BRONSTEIN, FOUNDER, ZOCHROT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The idea is to have a discussion in public about the danger of the Nakba Law. What's written here [in German] means it is not allowed to mourn on the day of independence.

TARACHANSKY: The Nakba means catastrophe in Arabic and refers to the war of 1948, when two-thirds of the Palestinian population became refugees. Many still hold the keys to their original homes, but to this day they're not allowed to return. Today, millions live in refugee camps throughout the Arab world. The Real News spoke to the founder of Zochrot, Eitan Bronstein.


TARACHANSKY: It's often said that the Nakba is the last and biggest taboo in Israeli discourse about the conflict.

BRONSTEIN (ENGLISH): Mainly because it undermines the basic justification for the establishment and the existence of a Jewish state as a place only for Jews. And if you--and for that, to keep those arguments, you must hide--keep in hiding the Nakba, because once you reveal it, it really undermines these justifications.


BRONSTEIN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The idea for this action came from a remembrance project in Berlin. Maybe some of you have seen it. It's pretty well known. It's not meant to commemorate the Holocaust; it commemorates the racist, antidemocratic laws of the early Nazi regime.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): [German] It is not allowed to mourn on the Day of Independence. Israel 2011


UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): This is really the time, on Independence Day, to come here with the Nakba?





UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Happy holidays! Happy holidays to everyone!

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Holocaust survivors came from the diaspora to build a home here. You're against that? And your parents? You have the gall to stand here?


UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): ... a country that's going in a racist, antidemocratic direction endangers us.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Me, me, I lost three brothers in the Holocaust. I'm a racist, and I don't want Arabs here, and I don't want you. It's sad people like you are even alive. It's embarrassing to the country. People gave their lives to this country. You stand here without shame? Judgment? Morals?



UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Before the country was built, there was the old Jewish settlement.


UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): So they can keep living, but not on Independence Day.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): But most of them were expelled.





UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): That's the price of democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The right to vote and freedom of speech, that's democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): And this is not freedom of speech?

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): That's not freedom of speech. When a person goes and protests unrealistic things, even if it displaces someone else.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): And what about the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees?



UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I busted my ass off in Gaza for you pieces of shit!

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Screw your mothers! Sons of bitches! Go fuck Arabs!

TARACHANSKY: After leaving the action, dozens of police officers surrounded the Zochrot office.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): This is the camerawoman who filmed them. They're in here. She's filming the Day of Independence, and she filmed their protest. They're in this building. So if you want to question her--.


UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): And why did you not notify the police about this? You didn't think it necessary?

TARACHANSKY (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Why? I'm a journalist. I film protests, etc.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): You have a responsibility to report actions that have a certain purpose. To disrupt the peace and order.



TARACHANSKY: Maybe you do.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): As a citizen, you're responsible.

TARACHANSKY: Maybe if they were doing something illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): You don't think it's illegal, disrupting the peace and order?

TARACHANSKY: The laws in this country do not say it's illegal to organize.


BRONSTEIN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): When I saw they were talking to you, I ran over. He asked, so I explained we did this action. And he asked if I gave out flyers. I said, if you want to see the flyers, come into our office. So he came, stood and read the flyer a few minutes, and took one with him. He told me it was an illegal action because it's a provocation and it adds work for the police. I said, okay, but we finished a while ago. What provocation? But "what", and "this and that". Anyway, he left.

TARACHANSKY: Do you think there's a chance your flyer will influence his opinions?

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I think so. He read it with great interest. He took a few of our pamphlets to read. He said he'll keep in touch, get on the Zochrot newsletter. Yeah, I swear, yeah.

End of Transcript

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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