Groups petition Israeli high court to annul Nakba law


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israeli human rights groups have petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the so-called Nakba Law.

The law, passed in 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.

Adalah, a legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a complaint with the Supreme Court on Wednesday, less than a week before Israel Independence Day, which some segments of the Arab community observe as Nakba Day.

The complaint asks the court to issue an interim order suspending the implementation of the law until a decision is made, which would free organizations and communities to observe the Nakba Day next week.

The law is "unconstitutional and should be annulled, as it violates the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and equality, and severely infringes on the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens to preserve their history and culture concerning the Nakba," the organizations said in a statement.

“This is an ideological law aimed against the national identity of Arab citizens in Israel and against their collective memory," said attorney Sawsan Zaher of Adalah. "It harms their legitimate status as equal citizens and punishes them for having a different identity and being the ‘other.’ The incitement and racism against Arab citizens, and the alienation in Israeli society, stand to increase as a result of this law.”

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