PNN, March 23, 2011
The Israeli legislature has passed a bill that will require the state to fine local authorities or state funded bodies that commemorate the Palestinian Nakba Day.
The bill has been reworked since its proposal in May 2009; originally the bill authorized a three-year prison sentence for anyone seen commemorating the Nakba. Now it imposes a fine on any group or authority that hosts an event acknowledging the Palestinian Nakba.
Any such state-funded body will be forced to pay three times its cost in fines for violating the new bill.
The legislation was drafted by MK Adam Miller of Israel Beiteinu and saw a vote with 37 in favor and 25 opposed.
MK David Rotem, also of Israel Beiteinu, justified the passage of the law, stating, “I am not ashamed for wanting to protect this state as a Jewish and democratic state.”
The bill was criticized heavily by MK Isaac Herzog of the Labor Party, as well as MKs Dov Khenin and Hanin Zoabi, of Hadash and Balad, respectively.
MK Herzog, claiming that the bill had been drafted against the recommendations of the attorney general, told the Knesset, “on this day the thought police is being established in Israel.”
MK Hana Sweid of Hadash argued that the bill is inherently incongruent with free expression.
He imagined a scenario in which someone could be in violation of the bill without engaging in any kind of anti-state activites, such as mourning relatives lost in the Nakba:
“To criminally accuse me of denying the existence and independence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is slander. It is an unproven collective charge.”