Pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside Tel Aviv University
Hundreds of Arab and Jewish students commemorated the Nakba on Monday in a joint ceremony in the entrance square of Tel Aviv University.
Dozens of supporters of Im Tirtzu, a right-wing student movement
, gathered opposite in a counter-demonstration, waving Israeli national flags and posters reading \"Nakba-Bullshit\". The groups were separated by the Special Riot Police force and by barricades, brought in for fear of rioting on campus.
The Nakba, meaning \"Day of Catastrophe,\" is the Palestinian day of commemoration of the displacement that followed the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.
The ceremony on Monday was held in both Arabic and Hebrew, languages rarely heard together on the same stage in Israel\'s segregated reality.
The ceremony opened with a moment of silence, while in the counter demonstration opposite, people booed and chanted slogans saying \"the Nakba is a lie\", which continued throughout the ceremony.
In his opening remarks, Sa\'ar Szekely, a Jewish student, cited data from a large scale Palestinian study, saying that as a result of the 1948 war, 530 Palestinian villages were destroyed and 750, 000 people were displaced.
The audience heard testimony from six students, daughters of displaced families. Ruba Salem, a 21-year-old student of social work, said that \"on July 7, 1948, the head of my family\'s village ordered all residents to leave for two weeks and to return upon the end of the fighting. But the Israeli army destroyed all of the houses, except two churches and a mosque,\" and access to the village was denied.
\"To this very day, we cannot enter the village, not even to the old cemetery where our loved ones were buried,\" Salem said.
The Nakba is considered taboo in the Israeli society. Israeli schoolbooks tell of Israel\'s victory over the Arab countries in 1948, a victory which paved the way to the establishment of the state, but they refrain from describing the implications of the Palestinian defeat in that war.
In 2011 the Knesset (parliament) passed the Nakba Law which imposed monetary sanctions on any organisation or body which \"marks Israel Independence Day or the day of the establishment of the state as a day of mourning.\"