New Law in Israel Sparks Backlash from Arab Minority Group

Events held with both the UK and Ethiopian Jewish community community

Events held with both the UK and Ethiopian Jewish community community

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.

The Druze are the most integrated minority in Israel, but the controversial law has provoked anger and fear. For instance, Arabic has been reclassed as a special language whereas before it was official.

Druze community members organized Saturday's march, held under the motto: "Equal rights for all citizens".

"Nobody has harmed - and nobody intends to harm - these individual rights but without the Nation-State Law it will be impossible to ensure for (future) generations the future of Israel as a Jewish national state".

Non-Jewish minorities are outraged, including the Druze minority. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state.

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The bill was passed by the right-wing governing coalition in a 62-55 vote on July 19.

The Druze activist said the law would only harm "the heart of Israeli society, "those people who perceive themselves as part of the Israeli society...."

"The prime minister has made a decision to rank the citizens of Israel: Jewish are first-class, Druze are second-class, Arabs and LGBT are fourth-class", Zandberg stated incisively, alluding to the passage of another law recently passed that precludes the gay community from surrogacy parenthood.

"If you now define me not as citizens of the state, how can I give any more or feel like I belong to this country, or stand up and sing the national anthem with pride?" After the meetings, Netanyahu hailed a "historic outline" that would recognize the contributions of the Druze community. They were waving Israeli and Druze flags.

"What makes Israel special is its unique social fabric - Jews, Arabs, Druze, Muslims, Christians, Bedouin, Circassians - together we are all Israel", she said.

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Organized by a group called, "The Struggle against the National Law", the goal of the protest is to show the "importance in preserving the democratic character of the State of Israel" for all of its citizens.

Last week, Two Druze Israeli officersresigned from the military in protest against the controversial bill. Israel's 130,000 Druze live mostly in the north of the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page yesterday that the protesters from the Druze community were being egged on by the left in Israel and by the European Union.

Protester Rima Basis, 25, from the predominantly Druze town of Daliyat al-Carmel, said the new law has helped entrench a feeling of inequality that had already existed to some degree. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu abruptly ended a meeting with Druze officials this week and lawmaker Avi Dichter, a co-sponsor of the law, was heckled by Druze in attendance at another.

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