Text size

Right and left-wing MKs traded verbal blows yesterday, as a Yisrael Beiteinu bill proposing cutting state sponsorship to political activities deemed as disloyal to the state went before the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. The bill was already approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in August.

"We cannot ignore the context of the bill, the identity of its authors and the party to which they belong - the Jewish Fascist party," said MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al). "This is a law to establish a 'thought police.' It's an Orwellian Big Brother law."

Tibi went on to list activities that the bill could make illegal: A lecture on the novel "The House of Dajani" by Alon Hilu, the writing and publishing of the book itself, a conference on the question of how Israeli Arabs view the Law of Return. "For instance, the symbols of the state are Jewish symbols with religious elements. Would the Arabs accept them? I don't accept them, because they don't talk to me, personally. The phrase I just said would be illegal under the bill," the MK said.

The bill, which is meant to become an amendment to the state budget law, is an amended version of a proposal by MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu). The original bill, nicknamed the "Nakba Law" at the time, provided for three years in prison for anyone openly mourning Israel's Independence Day. The current bill bars the state from providing funding to activities that deny Israel's definition as a Jewish or democratic state, as well as activities that might be seen as supportive of armed struggle or terrorism against the state, or dishonoring the flag, the state or any state symbol.

"It seems more moderate than the original Nakba bill, which provoked so much debate, but it's actually more dangerous. The bill says the state won't sponsor an organization not up to certain political criteria. Those criteria will change from Knesset to Knesset," said MK Dov Khenin (Hadash).