"How will I get to the airport?" My girlfriend was concerned as we made our way to the annual activity at Zochrot – commemorating the Nakba on Independence Day eve. "You've got nothing to worry about. Our activity is publicized every year. Everything is transparent. And the police never bothered us". I was trying to set her mind at ease, of course, but I really thought there was no chance the police would prevent us from performing this symbolic protest on a Tel Aviv street. We're doing this every year on Independence Day eve and there was never any sign of violence, so why should the police intervene? I was wrong. Dead wrong.
The police were there en masse. About twenty police officers besieged the entrance to our building on 61 Ibn Gabirol St. with video cameramen and projectors, and even blocked the exists to the neighboring courtyards. We came down to them armed with our own cameras to try and understand what they wanted. They told us that they would not let us out for our street activity because it is liable to disrupt public order. Our claims that public order was never disrupted in activities such as this fell on deaf ears. They said that this time there could be violence because our materials were seditious.
Seditious?! We were pretty shock at this definition of the hundreds of communities destroyed by Israel at the Nakba as "seditious". We showed them the papers with the communities' names on them and asked to know what was seditious about them.
Adv. Gaby Lasky also made clear to the police officers that they were not allowed to imprison us, and cannot force whoever wanted to get out of the building to identify himself because there was no suspicion that we were breaking the law in any way. This didn't help either. They kept us imprisoned in the street until 2am.
We were close to the police checkpoints that inspected entrants to the celebrations area. Two police checkpoints for two different types of segregation.
We stood in front of the policemen with the names of the destroyed villages and towns, which made many passersby interested and react in different ways. Many came to support us from outside. One of them, Yuval Halperin, began reading aloud the names of communities destroyed in the Nakba from Dan Yahav's book, Jaffa, Bride of the Sea. Within two minutes he was arrested and taken away in a police van. Two other supporters were arrested using excessive violence.
I'm trying to understand this intensification in police disruption to Zochrot's activity. I believe that the relevant context is the failure of the Nakba Law to prevent people from commemorating the Nakba on Independence Day. This anti-democratic law seeks to intimidate and threaten anyone seeking to commemorate the Nakba, particularly on Independence Day. But the state has realized that the law does not work and commemorating the Nakba continues, with more and more Israelis participating every year. Therefore they decided to send the police to physically prevent our activity in advance.
We shall see whether we manage to prove in court that the police's actions were illegal. Clearly, they turned the event into a public spectacle covered by multiple media, and the large crowd that gathered turned it into a sort of demonstration, with the police officers being part of it.
On the way to the airport I told my girlfriend that I received the most exciting update that night from my 8½ year-old son, Noam: "Bayern München beat Real Madrid and will join Chelsea in the Champions League final. At the end of the game, Ronaldo left the field with a defeated look on his face". She laughed on commented once more on my football mania.
On the way to the airport I missed the right exit from the highway. I realized then that this evening had made me very confused. I got to the airport late, only to hear the security guard ask her the usual racist question, "What's the origin of your family name?"
Translation to English: Amy Asher