Right-wing groups were not the only people upset by a Nakba Day
ceremony held at Tel Aviv University
on Monday. On Wednesday, Yisrael Beiteinu
MKs were due to submit a new bill that would allow the government to deny or revoke budgets from universities that allow such ceremonies on their premises.
The bill is meant to bolster the Nakba Law, which the Knesset passed a year ago and that allows the Finance Ministry to withhold government funds from organizations that organize or allow events that violate "the principles of the state."
The Nakba Law defines such events as ceremonies that deny the existence of Israel
as a Jewish, democratic state; that support terror or racist propaganda; that mark the founding of the state as a day of mourning; or damage the symbols or flag of Israel.
Education Minister Gideon Saar
has looked into the question of whether it was legally possible to withhold funds from Tel Aviv University because of the Nakba Day ceremony, but found that since the university hadn't funded the event, it was not. The new legislation from Yisrael Beiteinu, authored by Education Committee Chairman Alex Miller
– who also wrote the Nakba Law
– is designed to close this loophole.
The new bill would allow the education minister, who also serves as the chairman of the Council for Higher Education Council, to rescind funds from academic institutions that allow such activities, even if they don't organize or fund them. The bill has garnered support among both coalition and opposition MKs.
"Institutions of higher education are one of the most important tools for social and economic advancement," Miller wrote. "In addition, these institutions sometimes give a platform to political activity. These activities are welcome so long as they are democratic and appropriate."
"However, it is unacceptable that any event violate the basic principles on which the nation was founded. It is unacceptable that an institution lend its hand to dangerous activity intended to de-legitimize the state of Israel," Miller continued.
A first Knesset plenum debate on the new legislation is expected to be held a few weeks from now.
Tel Aviv University said in response that "the university has always operated and will always operate in accordance with the laws of Israel."