I am not afraid of people discussing the Nakba. I am afraid of people not being allowed to discuss it.

In the “credit where credit is due” department, I was very impressed by Hagai El- Ad, who was representing the Association of Civil Rights in Israel on the J Street Conference panel about the New Israel Fund. He provided what I believe was the only mention of the Nakba [Catastrophe] at the J Street conference, in the context of the Nakba Law, which he opposed in powerful, articulate language. This law, covered here on Muzzlewatch, was originally intended to criminalize with up to three years in prison anyone who dared commemorate the Nakba. The new version was ‘softened’ to bar the Israeli government from providing funding to activities that deny Israel’s definition as a Jewish or democratic state — in essence sanctioning a government boycott of Nakba-related cultural and educational activities.

El Ad opposed this law not just on behalf of the 20% of Israel’s population who is Palestinian, but referred to the Nakba as part of the history of the entire country. El Ad said “I am not afraid of people discussing the Nakba. I am afraid of people not being allowed to discuss it.”

This is a reminder of the stake we all have in opposing muzzling: the threat posed to everyone by those who would suppress or even criminalize criticism. All the more reason to use the privilege we have here to raise our voices as loudly and effectively as we can.

– Jesse Bacon