Monday, 12 November, 2018

Mass protest in Israel over ‘discriminating’ nation-state law

Event held with both the UK and Ethiopian Jewish community community Event held with both the UK and Ethiopian Jewish community community
Lisa Bryan | 06 August, 2018, 00:05

Tens of thousands of members of Israel's Druze minority and their Jewish supporters, some chanting "equality", packed a central Tel Aviv square Saturday night to rally against a contentious new law that critics say sidelines Israel's non-Jewish citizens. "For the love of the nation, I call all of us to cancel or amend the law that leaves the "other" outside the circle and to remove this ugly stain from the face of our state of Israel".

Members of Israel's Arabic-speaking Druze minority, which is known for supporting the state and serving in the military, organized a major protest Saturday against the law.

In his speech, Yuval Diskin said that Israel should be a model in its treatment of minorities precisely because the Jewish people had known persecution as a minority in other countries. "We are brothers, we defend this country and we'll build it and we will continue to live here together".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended the recently passed Jewish nation-state law as "vital" for ensuring that "Israel will remain the Jewish nation-state for generations to come".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the law, which says only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country and downgrades Arabic from an official language, from fierce criticism at home and overseas.

The Druze, a religious sect spread throughout Israel, Lebanon and Syria, make up a subset of Israel's Arab population. Critics, however, say the law effectively discriminates against Israel's Arabs and other minority communities.

The demonstrators were urged to lower party banners and to wave Israeli and Druze flags only. "We never questioned the Jewish identity of the state", said Sheikh Muafak Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze in Israel.


People take part at a protest march against the proposed Nation-state Law in Tel Aviv on July 14, 2018. "It will also preserve and cultivate Druze heritage".

"Therefore, we will establish today a special ministerial committee that will advance this relationship and this commitment, and at the same time will recognize those who serve in the IDF and the security services from all religions and all communities".

After decades of loyalty to the Israeli state, they say they are disappointed with what they perceive to be discriminatory legislation - which affects them, along with other non-Jewish groups.

The law has caused "no harm whatsoever to the civil equality that exists here", added Levin, a former top attorney and deputy head of Israel's Bar Association, while slamming Saturday's Druze-led protest as "mostly political".

Many Jewish Israelis, however, have criticized the law, including the country's president, Reuven Rivlin.

Dozens of protesters erected a huge sign blaring the words "Crime Minister" and bearing an image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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