JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed against the so-called Nakba Law, which severs government funding to organizations that observe Israel’s Independence Day with mourning.
The court ruled Thursday that it was too early to rule on the matter.
"The questions that this law raises will only become clear with its implementation," the justices wrote in their decision. They also said that the law raises "difficult and complex questions."
The suit was filed by Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, as well as several Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.
"This court ruling ignores the fact that already this law in practice harms both the freedom of expression and the civil rights of Arab citizens, even before its implementation," Adalah and ACRI said in a statement. "Because the law’s formulation is so broad and vague, many institutions have already begun and will self-censor in order not to risk incurring penalties. Today, the High Court of Justice missed an opportunity to make clear to legislators that there are limits to their anti-human rights steps, particularly to the targeting of the human rights of Israel’s Arab population. We will continue to monitor cases of concrete injury and will consider returning to the courts."
The law, passed last March, enables the state to fine local communities and other state-funded groups for holding events that mark what the Arab community calls the Nakba, which means catastrophe, referring to the creation of the Jewish state of Israel. Fines, deducted from a group’s operating budget, could equal up to three times the event’s sponsorship cost; repeat violations would double the fines.