Arab students were arrested by police on Sunday after physically assaulting Jewish activists who held a counter-demonstration across from the controversial Nakba Day ceremony held at Tel-Aviv University.
Several Jewish activists who sustained head injuries were treated by paramedics. The counter-demonstration was moved to the other side of the street.
Nakba Day is observed annually by Arabs on May 15, to commemorate the “Catastrophe” of Israel’s victory in the 1948-9 War of Independence. Since the late 1990s, PA Arabs have marked Nakba Day with rallies and processions. May 15 was the end of the British Mandate, although David Ben Gurion’s declaration was made on May 14, 1948, which was a Friday, out of respect for Shabbat.
The term “Nakba” was first coined by Konstantin Zoreik, a Syrian professor of Oriental Studies at the American University in Beirut, in his 1948 book, “Maana Al-Nakba” (“The Meaning of the Catastrophe). Zoreik, who wrote his book during the War of Independence, originally referred to the military failure of Arab states, which he believed was expressed in their consent to the first ceasefire.
Zoreik lamented: “The defeat of the Arabs in the Land of Israel is not just a failure or a passing evil. This is a catastrophe in the full sense of the word, one of the most severe the Arabs have been dealt in their long history. Seven Arab countries declare war on Zionism in the Land of Israel, then stop helplessly and turn on their heels. Seven countries seek to abolish [1947 UN resolution of] dividing the land and to overthrow Zionism, but they flee from the battlefield after losing a significant portion of the land, even the portion that had been ‘given’ to the Arabs. They are forced to accept a ceasefire that has neither an advantage nor a profit for them.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself. Was he the last honest Arab?
Dozens of Arab and far-left Jewish students gathered Sunday morning on the TAU campus wearing black shirts, waving flags of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and holding pictures of keys, symbolizing the “lost homes” of the Arabs who fled Israel in 1948.
In response, Im Tirtzu activists waved Israeli flags, chanted pro-Israel slogans, and distributed T-shirts displaying a key with a Star of David alongside the popular biblical prophecy: “And the sons shall return to their borders,” a reference to the end of the exile.
Im Tirtzu activists also put up two giant banners reading “Nakba Harta (Nonsense),” a comment on the “obscene historical distortion that seeks to rewrite history by making the victims––the Jews––into the aggressors.”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said that the sole purpose of the Nakba is to undermine the existence of the State of Israel. “We cannot afford the luxury of allowing this anti-Israel propaganda to go unchallenged,” said Peleg. “We are here sending a clear message that we will not be silent in the face of this deceitful attempt to rewrite history.”
“If the Jewish community in Israel were to lose the war, the Holocaust would have continued via Haj Amin al-Husseini and his antisemitic thugs,” Peleg said. “It is important to unapologetically call the Nakba what it is: nonsense,” Peleg said.
In July 2007, the Olmert government’s education ministry authorized Arab schools to use the term Nakba, which had been banned until then (although in practice the ban was not enforced). As part of the change in education policy, Arab schools were allowed to use a textbook containing the word Nakba along with the official Israeli version and in addition to emphasizing that the Arabs refused the UN decision to divide the land.
Following the rise of the right to power in July 2009, the Netanyahu education ministry decided to renew the ban on the mention of the Nakba in Arab schools’ textbooks. Then-Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said, “there is no reason for an official curriculum of the State of Israel to present the establishment of the state as a holocaust or a catastrophe.”
Israeli left-wing radical activists continue to take part in Nakba Day events and Israeli associations commemorate Arab communities that were destroyed in the War of Independence. One of the most prominent associations in this field is the “Zochrot” association, whose goal is to “bring the Palestinian Nakba to the attention of the general public. The Jewish public in Israel has a duty to take responsibility for its part in it.”