In a historic move that seemed impossible a few weeks ago in Israel, tens of thousands of Jews and Palestinian Arabs have rallied in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s controversial “Jewish state law”.
The Jewish nation state law which was passed by the parliarment of Israel last month officially affirms the Jewish character of Israel. Critics have however condemned the law saying it turns non-Jewish citizens of Israel into second-class citizens, further marginalising some 1.8 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship as well as other minorities like the ethnic Druze.
The protesters marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night calling for the law’s cancellation.
Speaking on the protests, one of the Protesters who was visibly excited said,
“This is amazing. This is the first time I remember Jews and Palestinians fighting together for something. This is a really big moment for people that believe in democracy and equality,”
Another protester who affirmed he was an Israeli Jew also agreed and reiterated that all citizens of Israel should be equal under the law.
“We, a lot of Israelis, believe that they [minorities] are entitled to be equal to us. It is the Jewish state but the people that live here are entitled to be equal to us across the board in education, in the army, in the universities, in the parliament – all over.” The protester said.
The Nation State law which was pushed through last month by the Prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, declares that the right to national self-determination is uniquely Jewish.
The law also states that Hebrew is the official language of Israel thereby downgrading the status of Arabic; both Hebrew and Arabic were the official languages of Israel.
The Nation-state bill also establishes Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as a “national value” that the state must encourage.
A demonstrator, Omar Sultan said,
“This law is against us, against the Arabic language, against peace, against our future in this land. We are the real people of this land.”
Another Protester is worried not just about the law but also about the path the Nation of Israel is threading on,
“We have anti-democratic moves taking place in many things – towards gays, towards women, towards secularism, and towards Palestinians. This is turning into a fascist regime. It’s not yet there, but it’s going in a bad direction.” the Protester said.
The Druze community also protested against the law last week, with thousands expressing anger at the Israeli government while comparing the law to the Nuremberg laws of Nazi Germany and Apartheid under the National Party of South Africa.