Minister Tells Israeli University to Rethink Ceremony Marking Palestinian Nakba

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar calls Tel Aviv University's decision permitting the ceremony 'wrong and infuriating.'

Education Minister and Council for Higher Education Chairman Gideon Sa'ar is attempting to interfere with the decision of Tel Aviv University to allow a Nakba Day memorial ceremony to take place on campus on Monday.

Sa'ar called TAU President Professor Yossef Kalupter on Sunday and requested that the university reconsider its decision to allow the event to take place.

Sa'ar's press advisor told Haaretz in response that "the education minister is of the opinion that the decision is wrong and infuriating."

MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu), who chairs the Knesset's Education Committee, plans to hold a discussion on the subject on Monday. "It is shameful that such an event is meant to happen in public, it's a direct blow against the symbols of the state and its sovereignty. The university's management must cancel the event immediately and return sanity to the system," he said.

Last week, Haaretz reported that the university's dean of students had decided to allow the ceremony to take place, on the condition that students pay for security guards for the event themselves.

In January, the High Court of Justice upheld the controversial Nakba Law passed by the Knesset last March, which grants the Finance Minister the authority to reduce the budget of state-funded bodies that openly reject Israel as a Jewish state or mark the state's Independence Day as a day of mourning.

The university's security unit also decided to change the location of the protest to a less central location.

On the ceremony’s agenda is a reading of a poem by poet Mahmoud Darwish, a moment of silence, as well a reading of an alternative version of the “Yizkor” prayer traditionally read at events commemorating fallen soldiers.

In order to make for equal, open, and calm relations between Jews and Arabs in this country, Israel must recognize the disaster that befell the Palestinian people," explained Noa Levy, one of the organizers of the ceremony.

"We must recognize the catastrophe, and begin to understand the correct, and just way to fix it. Acknowledgement is the first step, and that is what is happening here on Monday," said Levy.

Read this article in Hebrew.