Palestine Monitor, 24 March 2011
One bill, known as the Nakba Law effectively illegalizes any public institution—including local municipalities and publically supported organizations—from commemorating Nakba Day—or in the bill’s own words any “commemoration of Independence Day as a day of mourning.”
This law strikes at the very core of freedom of expression: now, the State will be able to fine any local institution that presents or expresses any rendering of Israeli Independence Day as anything that deviates from a story of victory and triumph.
ACRI has denounced the bill, arguing that not only does it chip away at Israel’s most basic rights of freedom of artistic and political expression, but it will undoubtedly target Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Palestinians living in Israel will be unable to represent their own history and narrative of the creation of Israel.
The bill imparted enforcement duties to the Ministry of Finance, who will be able to withhold funds to public organizations. Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), has written about the shocking direction this bill takes Israel. In an article originally published in Hebrew on NRG, El-Ad writes, “This is perhaps the first time in democracy for freedom of expression to receive such a price tag.”
El-Ad has interpreted the bill as a privatization of free speech, writing that now, “Certain forms of speech will have a particularly high price.”
Citing the use and payment of police officers to protect a demonstration, El-Ad observes that before the Nakba Law, society paid for the protection of their rights to free speech.
With the passing of the Nakba Bill, also known as Amendment 39, the state has transfers these costs to those public organizations that exercise their freedom of expression and speech.
El-Ad warns that future bills, namely the “Prohibition on participation in a boycott” bill will further privatize rights by burdening individuals with the cost of their political expressions.