Saturday, October 31, 2020

Israelis protest inequality intrinsic to new Nation-State Law

By Naomi Kundera - August 07, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jews] [Israeli law] [protests] [Druze in Israel] [Palestinian citizens of Israel]

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday, August 4, to protest the Jewish Nation-State Law and to demand equality.
Led by the Druze community, the rally drew between 50-90,000 supporters. Druze flags were waving indiscriminately and Arabic was being spoken freely on stage as Rabin Square was packed to the brim with Israeli citizens. The crowd constantly shouted their demand: “equality!”
The sentiments of the rally, however, was not against Israel as a “Jewish state.” All of the speakers, +972 Magazine reported, and many in the crowd supported the law. What instilled fire in the crowd of demonstrators was the blatant negligence against democracy and equality.
“We have no problem with the [Jewish] Nation-State Law,” said Member of Knesset Akram Hasson, one of the speakers at the rally and part of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition. “But we want a basic law [ensuring] equality… We aren’t racists. We are fighting for Israeliness.”
The “apartheid law”

The controversial Nation-State Law was passed in the Knesset 62-55 last month as a “historic moment for Israel and for the Zionist dream,” hailed Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The law makes Israel a state for the “Jewish people,” rather than all Israelis, which is problematic as nearly a quarter of the population of Israeli citizens are non-Jews.
Arabic was stripped as an official language of the state and the national anthem, flag, and Jewish calendar were codified. In the process, the values of democracy, equality, and minority rights were undermined in the passing of this law.
Many Palestinian governing groups and organizations assailed the law as a “license to apartheid” while leftist Jewish organizations both in Israel and the United States deemed it as “unnecessary.”
Discriminating the Arab minority

Druze, who number about 120,000 in Israel, will be considered second-class citizens under the new Nation-State Bill. An indigenous Arab, religious group to the Levant, the Druze community are an integral minority group in Israel. Roughly 80% of the community serves in the Israeli army.
One of the rally speakers, Brigadier General Amal Assad, is the former head of the Shin Bet Yuval Diskin for the Israeli military. General Assad has been on the forefront in the fight against the Nation-State Law.
Last week, the second Druze soldier left the Israeli military in protest to the law as well. Shady Zidan said he “was proud to salute the flag,” but now “feels like a 'second-class citizen.’”
Another peaceful demonstration against the Nation-State Law took place last week in Tel Aviv. Called, “the world’s largest Arabic lesson,” thousands of Israelis attended the event in protest to the exclusion of Palestinian citizens of Israel under the new law and the erasure of Arabic as part of Israel’s national identity.

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