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Nakba Bill Threatens Freedom of Expression

The "Nakba" law proposed by Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu party, which threatens basic freedoms of expression and democracy and the ability of Israel's Jews and Arabs to live together, is a major cause of concern for the New Israel Fund.  The Ministerial Committee for legislation has now approved the law, which if enacted, would make it illegal for Israel's Arabs to mark Independence Day as the Nakba (catastrophe) for the Palestinian people.

"The attempt to trample on the feelings of pain of Israeli Arabs will result in increased tensions, destroy the fabric of joint living and damage Israel's international image," said NIF President Professor Naomi Chazan.

She added, "This is an extreme restriction on freedom of expression."  Prof. Chazan stressed that NIF, together with other social change organizations, will support the struggle to ensure that this anti-democratic proposal will not pass, and be struck off the legislative agenda for good.

Sammi Michael, President of veteran NIF grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and renowned author, said, "We have witnessed a worrying deterioration in the protection of freedom of speech and the defense of democratic values. Marking the Nakba does not threaten the safety of the State of Israel, but is rather a legitimate and fundamental human right of any person, group or people, expressing grief at the face of a disaster they experienced."

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$250 million to Israeli social change groups since 1979.