Oath Protest 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Hundreds of youngsters gathered in Jerusalem’s Zion Square on Wednesday evening
to protest the proposed loyalty oath, chanting “Zionism is not racism!”
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current form, as approved by the cabinet, the oath – requiring new citizens to
pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state – would only apply
to non-Jews who become citizens via the Law of Entry. But Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu now says he wants to expand it to Jews who become citizens
via the Law of Return.
Netanyahu is trying to galvanize support in the
Knesset for the change.
But due to the opposition of as many as 29
coalition MKs from Labor, Shas and United Torah Judaism, he does not have a
majority for an amended proposal.
If the loyalty oath is applied only to
non-Jews, however, Shas, United Torah Judaism and the opposition National Union
faction would back it, giving it the support of 65 MKs, a comfortable
The rally was deliberately held in downtown Jerusalem as a
reminder of a heated right-wing Zion Square rally that took place just before
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, when extreme right-wing protesters
carried flyers depicting Rabin in an SS uniform and chanted “Rabin is a
“It’s very exciting to come back to Zion Square, the place which
documented one of the lowest points in our history, where the incitement came to
murder Rabin,” MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) told The Jerusalem Post
thankful to the youth who chose to come here on this day to say something
different, to fight to use our rights and say this country will be Jewish and
We don’t need any loyalty oath to do this, but we need to
fight for this.”
Three youths dressed as Theodor Herzl circulated
throughout the crowd, gathering signatures for a petition protesting the loyalty
Social Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) and MK Nitzan Horovitz
(Meretz) also attended the rally.
“The most important thing we want to
show at the demonstration is that it’s not the two specific words ‘Jewish and
democratic’ that bothers us,” said Ziv Rozenberg, the spokesperson for Hashomer
Hatzair, and one of the rally’s organizers. “What bothers us is that it’s part
of a trend led by (Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman.”
potential provisions that could require everyone getting an identity card at age
16 to sign a loyalty oath.
“This is a very positive moment of light in
the darkness of the political system in Israel,” Peace Now Director Yariv
Oppenheimer told the Post
. “The message is very clear, it’s a real threat to
Israeli democracy – this time not from right-wing extremists, but from members
The rally was organized by Hashomer Hatzair, Labor, Meretz,
Peace Now and antiracism organizations.
A small counter-demonstration of
right-wing protesters stood to the side and carried signs that said “Leftists
are traitors! Kahane was right” and yelled “Rabin destroyed the country!” Gil
Hoffman contributed to this report.