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A Palestinian teacher was suspended for attending the annual March of Return

Updated: Jun 6

March of Return Challenges Status Quo

Every year on May 15th, Palestinians around the world observe Nakba Day, mourning the catastrophe of the 1948 war. In Israel/Palestine, several notable events mark this solemn occasion. Local ceremonies occur, including one near Tel Aviv University, but the main event is the March of Return’. Each year, this march, attended by Palestinians and their Jewish allies, takes place in a different location, often near the ruins of a Palestinian village. This year, despite hostilities from the police and the intimidating climate faced by Palestinians citizens of Israel since October, the march proceeded as planned.

Teacher Targeted

This year, the March of Return took place near Shfaram in the north, and among the participants was educator and high school teacher Sabrin Masarweh. Several photos from the event were posted on social media, and Masarweh was visible in one of them, standing next to the Palestinian national flag. Someone who knew her spotted her in the photo and reported her participation, which is completely legal, to the school administration. Consequently, a vicious smear campaign was launched against her on social media, accompanied by 

death threats.

Get political, lose your job

The most disgraceful aspect of this incident is the active persecution by the Ministry of Education. Instead of supporting the teacher's right to freedom of speech, the Minister of Education himself intervened, and Masarweh now faces termination from her job. Even if she is not fired, it is difficult to imagine how she can return to work, given that many students and parents have threatened violence against her and the school if she returns.

Israel's Free Speech Farce Exposed

This is part of a troubling trend that started before October 7th but has worsened since. Expression by Palestinians citizens of Israel, and to a lesser extent left-wing Jews, is being increasingly stifled. Right-wing organizations actively spy on Palestinians, fostering a culture of snitching on anyone who dares to mourn over Gaza or identify with their fellow co-nationals. The extreme settler-led coalition in Israel encourages and supports these efforts, as demonstrated in Masarweh's case, where the Minister himself is pushing for her dismissal. Israel often prides itself on being a democracy and uses this claim to deflect criticism. However, for those living here, it is evident that true freedom of speech, which has always been limited, is shrinking every day.

מי מפחד מסמלי זהות?

ההכחשה של זהותו וכאבו של העם הפלסטיני בעבר ובהווה, ביפו ובעזה, רק מחזקת את האויבות בין העמים. הכחשה מנכרת ופוגעת ביכולתנו להתמודד עם המציאות, להצליח לבנות חברה מתוקנת יותר לשני העמים בין הים לירדן .

דווקא מתוך התפיסה המזרחית הקוראת להכרה בעוולות שנעשו כלפי הורינו וכלפינו כאזרחים מופלים בישראל, יש לנו אחריות לא להתעלם מעוולות שנעשו לאחרים. לכן, קולקטיב מזרחי-אזרחי קורא לסיום המלחמה, השבת החטופות והחטופים, הכרה והפסקת עוולות עבר והווה, העמקה הדדית בלימוד ההיסטוריה והסוציולוגיה של פלסטינים ומזרחים, לצד חיזוק התרבות היהודית-ערבית. 

כי אין דמוקרטיה, בלי שלום מזרחי-פלסטיני.


This piece was written in collaboration with the Mizrahi Civic Collective.

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