Before "Nakba Day" officially begins on May 15, roughly 1,000 people gathered outside Tel Aviv University today to mark the occasion.
For those unfamiliar with the term-- "nakba" means "catastrophe" in Arabic, and often refers to the day in which the state of Israel was re-created in 1948.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
The crowd was more or less split between those attending the memorial and a particularly raucous crowd of counter-demonstrators waving Israeli flags, singing the national anthem, honking horns, and occasionally chanting “Havenu Nakba Alechem” (we brought a Nakba upon you).
Police arrested two people at the event.
The counter-protesters, according to the Post, said:
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said he and others came to protest against the memorial event to “restore a bit of sanity” to the Israeli public. Ben-Ari added that there is no reason for Israelis to listen to the Palestinian narrative about the Nakba, because “it’s not a narrative, it’s a lie. What if they’d won the war? We’d have had another Holocaust here.”
Another counter-protestor, Bar-Ilan University student Lilach Aviv, 25, held up a sign that read “Israeli Arabs say no to the Nakba,” and said those attending the memorial “should do this in Ramallah or Gaza. Instead they exploit our democracy to spit in our faces.”
Anti-Israel activists, like those from the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) Movement, claim Israel is an apartheid state that violates international law and Palestinian rights.
Israeli universities, they say, "are complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, whether through their silence, actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, or indeed through their direct collaboration with state agencies in the design and commission of these violations. Accordingly, these institutions, all their activities, and all the events they sponsor or support must be boycotted."
But does an apartheid nation intent on stripping the rights of Arabs let close to a thousand protesters bash the state's very existence outside one of its largest universities?