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Ben-Gurion University
BGU Ahmad Saadi, TAU Amal Jamal: "Nakba Day" demonstrations intensify in recent years

BGU Ahmad Saadi, Department of Politics and Government

TAU Amal Jamal, Department of Political Science


"Nakba Day" demonstrations intensify in recent years

May 16, 2011


by Adam Gonn

As Palestinians and Israeli Arabs on Sunday marked this year's "Nakba Day", conflicts broke out between Israeli troops and Arab demonstrators at various locations throughout the region.

Analysts speaking to Xinhua said that over the last 10 years, the amount of people taking part in the "Nakba Day" demonstrations has increased, despite a growing feeling of inability to influence the Israeli policy. The analysts also connect the emotions of the "Nakba Day" demonstrators to the current turmoil in the Arab countries in the Middle East.

Ahmed Saadi of Ben-Gurion University in the Negev said there is a trend that more and more people are marking "Nakba Day" compared to the past. He considers it particularly interesting that young people, who were not born during the years around the establishment of the Israeli statehood, were involved.

"My generation is the generation who lived under the military government. At that time people were not allowed to leave their village for any reason without a permit from the government," Saadi told Xinhua.

Asked about the motivation behind the younger generation's involving in commemorating Nakba Day, Saadi noted two reasons: " the moral injustice of 1948 when people were expelled" and the Israeli government's current policies.

He also described the youth Arabs as being more "cosmopolitan" and aware of what is happening outside Israel, referring to the current turmoil in Arab countries in the region.

The view is partially shared by Amal Jamal of Tel Aviv University, who said that the mass demonstrations across the Middle East over the last couple of months have a huge impact on Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.

"It has a very strong influence. First of all, it influenced the way that demonstrations are convened and that the public is mobilized," Jamal told Xinhua.

People are hoping that the changes taking place in the Arab world, especially in Egypt, can empower the Palestinians and lead to a change in the balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, Jamal argued.

Concerning the Palestinians inside Israel, it seems that their ability to influence the Israeli policy has been neglected, Jamal said, adding that "therefore we see and hear a lot of criticism" in the Knesset and against the Israeli government.

In Jamal's opinion, the rallies and demonstrations on one hand have and should have some impact on the government's policies. On the other hand, behind the demonstrations comes the "frustration and disappointment concerning their ability to influence the Israeli government and public opinion in general."

There are three Arab parties in the Knesset, or the Israeli parliament, with a total of 11 seats. However, Jamal said that there is a sense of mistrust that the Arab political parties are engaged more according to their own concerns and less with the daily needs of the Arab public. Therefore, the public wants to go beyond the agenda set by the parties, Jamal said.

Source: Xinhua
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