Nakba, the Arabic word for "catastrophe," is the name given by Palestinians to the day Israelis mark their anniversary as a nation. Tel Aviv University, resisting pressure from government officials and others, is permitting a student group to have a "Nakba Day" event today, The Jerusalem Post reported. Critics say that universities, as they are supported by the Israeli government, should not associate with activities many see as questioning the right of the Israeli state to exist, and Israeli law bars the use of public funds for such activities. The education minister called university officials to lobby them to cancel the event. University officials said that they were complying with the law by requiring the student organizers to pay for the event and associated security costs.
Students who set up the event said that free speech should include important discussions of the Palestinian perspective. Dan Walfisch, a history and philosophy major and an organizer of the ceremony, said of the event: "It will not include rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Our goal is only to recognize the suffering of the Palestinian people because we see mutual recognition as a condition of having a shared existence in Israel.”