Israeli Druze rally against new nation-state law

Israeli Druze rally against new nation-state law”

Tens of thousands are protesting in Tel Aviv against "nation-state" law that prioritized Jewish values in Israel and has been criticized as discriminating sparking local and global condemnation. They are fiercely loyal to the country in which they live.

Palestinian citizens of Israel have long said they are treated as second-class citizens by Israeli authorities, suffering from discriminatory legislation and radically inferior access to public services and infrastructure compared with Jewish citizens.

Led by Israel's Druze minority, the crowd, filling almost every square foot of the city's central square, repeatedly cheered "Equality!" as speakers railed against the recently passed legislation.

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

These and other things are happening because the laws of the state anchored in basic laws only individual rights without any constitutional balance vis-à-vis our national component; therefore, we legislated the Nation-State Law in order to ensure the existence of the State of Israel as a state that is not only democratic but as the national state of the Jewish people and of it alone.

Participants included newly-appointed Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and senior figures from the Druze community.

"All our lives we took pride in an enlightened, democratic, and free state of Israel with the freedom and dignity of man as a supreme value".

An i24NEWS correspondent said the crowd was likely to be in the tens of thousands, with hundreds more still arriving. "Despite our utter loyalty, the state does not see us as equal", the Druze spiritual leader, Sheikh Muwafaq Tarif, told the demonstrators in a speech.

High-ranking Druze reserve military officers were expected to speak at the rally attended by Jewish former defense officials and others who flocked to Rabin Square in solidarity. The Druze revere Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, whose tomb in northern Israel is one of their most sacred sites.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Cabinet ministers have met with Druze leaders to try and pacify their concerns.

The law's backers in parliament say it strengthens the state's status as a homeland for the Jewish people and note it was backed by a slim majority of the country's lawmakers.

Critics and members of the state's Palestinian minority - which constitutes 20 percent of Israel - have likened the law to apartheid. Asad, who was part of the meetings, told Israel's YNET news that Netanyahu refused to sit with someone who accused the Israeli leader of running an apartheid state.

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