Thousands protest ‘Jewish State’ law in Tel Aviv

13 Août, 2018, 09:54 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Israel's Arab minority rallies against new nation-state law

Thousands of protesters rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday against Israel's new law declaring it the nation-state of the Jewish people, legislation that has angered the country's Arab minority and drawn criticism overseas.

Israeli Arabs and their supporters take part in a rally to protest against Jewish nation-state law in Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Netanyahu later commented on the Arab-led rally and the Palestinian flags being waved, saying "we will continue to raise the Israeli flag and sing Hatikva (national anthem) with pride".

"The basis of the demonstration today is to direct a powerful message that the national law will be abolished", Ghanaim told the protesters.

"The law legitimizes racism", said Laila al-Sana, 19, from a Bedouin village in Israel's southern Negev desert.

The law passed by the Knesset last month for the first time enshrines Israel as "the national home of the Jewish people", and says "the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".

Arab citizens, who make up some 17.5 percent of Israel's more than eight million population, have strongly criticized the law, particularly those from Israel's 150,000-strong Druze community, who, unlike other Arabs who may volunteer, are subject to compulsory service in the military or police alongside Jewish Israelis.

Opposition lawmaker and leader of Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, also commented on the rally and the Palestinian flags, saying "I wonder what would have happened to those who would have tried to march in the center of Ramallah with Israeli flags".

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Palestinian flags were raised at the demonstration in spite of a request made by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee not to wave the flag.

She said the division over the rally among opposition lawmakers was splintering efforts to amend or strike down the law.

"The state of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people".

"I feel ashamed that after 70 years I have to accentuate my nationalism instead of being generous towards all those who live here", said Gila Zamir, 58, a Jewish Israeli from the Arab-Jewish city Haifa.

Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday that Palestinian flags "flying in the heart of Tel Aviv" was "conclusive evidence" that many protesters oppose Israel's existence, and proves the law is necessary. Its defenders say civil equality is guaranteed in existing legislation.

But Rozin insisted the approximately 30,000 Israelis who packed into downtown Tel Aviv on Saturday night were simply demanding equality, similar to the Druze-led protest against the law held at the city square a week earlier. Rights groups and Jewish groups in the Diaspora have spoken against the legislation, as have the EU, Egypt and Israel's own president.

Shortly after, prominent sectors of Israeli society, including generals belonging to the Druze Arab minority protested by leaving the army, and last week they organized a massive protest to demand the revocation of the law.

The Druze are ethnic Arab members of a religious minority that is an offshoot of Islam incorporating elements of other faiths.

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