Palestinian teacher suspended from job for attending Nakba Day march

Palestinian teacher suspended from job for attending Nakba Day march
Masarwa was summoned to a meeting after students and parents identified her in photos at the march and called for the school to dismiss her.
3 min read
16 May, 2024
A Palestinian teacher was suspended from her role for attending a Nakba Day march [Getty]

The Israeli Ministry of Education has summoned a Palestinian teacher, later leading to her suspension from the school she works at, after she was seen attending a Nakba Day march on Wednesday.

According to local Arabic media, Sabreen Masarwa, from the city of Taybeh in the occupied West Bank, was expelled from her role because students and teachers highlighted she was at the march pressured the school into dismissing her.

"At first, I did not understand what was going on. My son was arrested because we had the Palestinian flag, and when they took us to a police station, he was released," she told the Palestinian Arab48 news site.

"Then I received a strange message from the school principal, who asked about the picture circulating online that said I incite over Israel on social media," she added.

On Wednesday, Palestinians and activists around the world marked the 76th commemoration of the Nakba, or 'catastrophe'. The Nakba, marked on 15 May every year, describes the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes at the hands of violent Zionist militias in 1948, to pave the way for the creation of Israel.

During the Nakba, Palestinians lost their homes, land and were stripped of their rights, in what has now become a traumatic but important point in Palestinian history.

Masarwa also told Arab48 when she had first joined the school as an Arabic language teacher, she made it clear that she identifies as a Palestinian living in Israel.

"My identity was always apparent in the lessons I taught, and I conveyed the pain of my community to school, which has never posed any problems."

"The Nakba march revived the spirit in us and had may young people participate…it is important we confront these policies and not lower our heads. We must stand firm in our position and there is no need to apologise for things you do not regret," she added, emphasising the importance of her Palestinian identity.

According to Haaretz, parents at the school accused Masarwa of using inflammatory words against Israel, however the ministry admitted it did not have any evidence of incitement by Masarwa.

Live Story

The ministry said it "view[s] the incident very seriously” and that the “teacher’s conduct violates the professional ethics expected of an educator".

Haaretz reported that Masarwa said she attends the Nakba march every year, choosing to "unite with the pain of those who were displaced from their homes and lost their loved ones".

Mohammad Barakeh, the chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for Palestinian citizens in Israel, called the move to dismiss Masarwa a "violation".

"People want to force a narrative on the public, while threatening their work and livelihood. This is a violation of every law and every morality," he said in a statement.

The Nakba Day march came as Israel continues its ongoing war on Gaza, which has killed over 35,200 Palestinians and left at least 79,000 others wounded.

The bombardment has devastated entire neighbourhoods and destroyed the enclave’s infrastructure.

Around 1.4 million forcibly displaced Palestinians are currently sheltering in Rafah, with many activists and campaigners saying Israel’s goal since 7 October is to initiate, or amounts to, a second Nakba.

In an interview in November 2023, Israeli security cabinet member and Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter was asked whether the images of Gaza residents evacuating south resembled those of the Nakba.

“We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba," he said.