Tel Aviv University Reverses Decision to Ban Nakba Lecture

The university changed its mind after the Association for Civil Rights in Israel appealed the decision, arguing that since the university is not funding the Nakba commemoration event, the 2011 Nakba Law does not apply

Students at Tel Aviv University commemorating Nakba Day, May 2019.
Hadash Students

Tel Aviv University has reversed its decision and approved a lecture on the subject of the Nakba with the participation of MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) on Tuesday, after first rejecting it for “violating” the Nakba law.

The university said on Thursday that organizers have “provided clarifications” on the nature of the event and the planned lecture “is now in a process of authorization.” The renewed request was submitted on Sunday and quickly approved, although the organizers say that the request form was identical to the previous one.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that this is the first time since the law was approved in 2011 that they have received a report of such a decision by an academic institution. ACRI appealed the rejection, explaining that the law does not forbid Nakba-related activity in public or academic institutions, but only allows the state to revoke funding from public institutions giving financial support to such events. “In light of the fact that the event is not organized or budgeted by Tel Aviv University, there is no legal basis for rejecting the event,” they added.

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The Nakba Law bars entities that receive state funds from financing activities that deny the existence of Israel as the state of the Jewish people or its democratic character, vandalism or physical contempt for the Israel flag or state symbol, or marking Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning. In effect, the law bars institutions from receiving state funding if they fund the observation of Nakba Day, marked by Palestinians on May 15, the anniversary of Israel’s independence. The day commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 war. A rally marking Nakba Day was held on Wednesday outside TAU’s main gate.

Dr. Ofer Cassif at the Hadash primaries in Shfaram, northern Israel, February 1, 2019.
rami shllush

The Hadash student organization at the university welcomed the decision, saying it was not the first time they had encountered difficulties with their activity on campus due to pressure from the right-wing government, which wants to silence critical Arab and Jewish voices.

Cassif said any attempts “to silence those who speak about the Nakba will not make the Nakba itself or the stain it leaves on our lives go away. We must recognize crimes committed in the past to have a shared future, with equality and peace for both peoples.”