Government ministry tells college administrators that Independence Day joy can be interpreted as disrespectful and offensive to Arabs.
By Adina Katz, World Israel News
An Israeli government ministry video aimed at vocational college administrators advocated for a “flexible” approach towards Arab students and workers who are unwilling to participate in a minute of silence for fallen soldiers and to be sensitive towards those who view Israel’s Independence Day as a cause for mourning.
The video, obtained by Israel Hayom, was produced and distributed by the Ministry of Economy and Industry. An instructional pamphlet with recommendations was sent to the vocational colleges along with the video.
The video and text were ostensibly meant to help administrators mitigate potential tensions between Jews and Arabs posed by Israel’s public ceremonies commemorating IDF casualties and celebrating the birth of the country.
But the messages in the video and document appear to endorse a policy of indulging and legitimizing the perspective that the creation of the State of Israel was a disastrous event for Arabs.
“We must recognize that Independence Day is Nakba Day [Catastrophe Day] for Arab citizens and allow [Arab staff and students] not to stand in silence during the siren on Memorial Day,” the video advised.
“Expressing joyfulness during Independence Day can be misconstrued as disrespect for Nakba Day,” the video added.
Later in the video, a Jewish woman uses the Hebrew term for Independence Day, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, while an Arab man uses the Arabic term, Dhikra an-Nakba (“in memory of the catastrophe”).
In a statement to Israel Hayom, the Ministry of Economy and Industry shirked responsibility for the content of the video and document, bizarrely claiming that the materials did not reflect its views.
“The colleges under our supervision serve as a home for all sectors of society in Israel and allow a fusion of various cultures and socioeconomic mobility for the student population,” the Ministry said.
“The document comprises general points that were devised by a research institution under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is important to make it clear that this is not a binding document and it does not reflect the ministry’s views.
“The document was sent to several ministries as general advice. However, we have been made aware of the controversy and therefore all colleges will receive a clarification.”