Middle East

Lieberman wants budget cut for university allowing Nakba commemoration

Israel’s Finance Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said on Wednesday that he is seeking to cut the budget of Ben Gurion University in the Negev for allowing a Nakba commemoration to take place on campus, local media have reported.

“At a rally held at Ben Gurion University things were said and done that reject the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” tweeted the far-right leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party. He added that he has given instructions “to examine the conduct of the university in order to exercise my authority to reduce its budget.”

Ynet news website reported sources close to Lieberman as saying that the speeches delivered during the Nakba commemoration described the establishment of Israel as a “day of mourning”. Expressing such sentiments, they said, is “apparently against the law.”

On Monday, a few dozen Arab Israeli students held a rally on the university campus in the southern city of Beersheba, waving Palestinian flags and singing nationalist songs. The rally was held just days after the students were prevented from holding a protest on Nakba Day itself, which is marked annually on 15 May.

Although Israeli officials were reported to have expressed their anger at the rally, Arab Israeli parliamentarian Sami Abou Shehada pointed out that, “Zionist extremists went around Tel Aviv University, including around some dorms where Arab Palestinian citizens were, shouting ‘death to the Arabs’ as well as other hateful slogans.” He added that neither the Israel police nor the university did anything to protect the Arab students.

“This is apartheid,” said the Knesset Member. “This took place a few hours after the Israeli Minister of Education Yifat Shasha-Biton joined right-wing extremists in attacking the Nakba commemorations held at Tel Aviv University, which is built on the ruins of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwannis.”

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