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Marking the Nakba Photo: Ido Erez
Marking the Nakba Photo: Ido Erez
 
 

Arabs: Nakba bill means war

Higher Arab Monitoring Committee slams loyalty for citizenship bills ahead of government vote Sunday: 'No local law can undermine our grip on homeland, national identity, and history,' writes chairman

Sharon Roffe-Ofir
Published: 05.30.09, 20:57 / Israel News

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee sent a letter of protest to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Saturday in which it warns against the passing of a bill proposal that would outlaw marking the Nakba - the Palestinian day of mourning over the creation of the State of Israel.

 

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"If the government supports this bill, it will be tantamount to a declaration of war against the Arab citizens of Israel," HAMC secretary Abed Anabtawi told Ynet.

 

The government is set to discuss three bills dealing with loyalty to the state on Sunday. The first proposes a prohibition of marking Israel's Independence Day as a day of mourning, which would effectively outlaw the Nakba.

 

The second bill prohibits the publication of any material negating the existence of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. The HAMC says in the letter that this bill would inhibit Arabs from continuing their battle for equal rights and against discrimination.

 

The third bill requires citizens to declare their loyalty to the state, its flag, and the national anthem. The committee says this is out of line because it would require Arabs to swear loyalty to the values of Zionism.

 

"The committee rejects these bills and opposes them in the name of the Arab public in Israel. These bills are racist and oppressive in asking to revoke Arab citizens' basic rights through criminal proceedings simply because of their national identity," writes Chairman Mohammad Zeidan.

 

"The bills require the Arab minority to deny its history and Arab-Palestinian identity on one hand, and to identify with Zionist values that negate its national identity on the other."

 

The letter also outlines the Arabs' history in Israel. "Our historic roots in this country are long and deep," Zeidan writes. "There is no local law that can undermine our grip on the homeland, our national identity and our history."

 

Zeidan says international law requires equal rights for minorities in all areas. "The bills conflict with the state of Israel's obligation to respect these rights according to international law," the letter says.

 

Secretary Abed Anabtawi said the HAMC would hold an emergency meeting Sunday following the government vote. "This is not just a battle belonging to the Arabs in Israel, but to all peace forces," he said.

 

"This harms us and what's left of Israeli democracy. The Arab public is united against these bills and we do not plan to honor any such laws. If the government adopts these bills it will be tantamount to a declaration of war against the Arab citizens of Israel, and the committee will declare a number of moves it plans to make in the event that the bills are approved."

 

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