Activists rally in Tel Aviv against loyalty oath

Artists, intellectuals, MKs express fears that Israel becoming fascist country at protest in front of old Tel Aviv Museum.

October 11, 2010 05:51
2 minute read.
Rally against loyalty oath

Tel Aviv rally against loyalty oath 311. (photo credit: Benjamin Spier)

Around 150 protesters gathered in Tel Aviv on Sunday to protest the cabinet’s approval Sunday of an amendment to the Citizenship Law that will require non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to swear loyalty to Israel as “a Jewish and democratic state.”

The rally was held outside of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, where David Ben-Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. The demonstrators included academics, artists, and Hadash MK Dov Henin, Meretz MK Nitzan Horovitz, and Labor’s MK Eitan Cabel and MK Daniel Ben-Simon.

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During the rally, a number of protesters read from a declaration stating their opposition to what they say is the country’s decline and transformation into a fascist state.

One of the organizers of the demonstration, Sefi Rachlevsky, said that the protest was held to express their “great anger towards a terrible action taken by a country we love.”

Rachlevsky said the protesters were expressing their anger at the law because “once you ask the individual to swear such allegiances, you’re doing something forbidden. At the moment that you ask that everyone agree to this same belief, you are a fascist state.”

Rachlevsky added that the amendment “prevents someone who is not Jewish from becoming a full citizen of the state” and added that every “national catastrophe begins with decisions like this.”

The amendment, which was the brainchild of Israel Beitenu, was approved 22-8 by the cabinet on Sunday. When put into law, the amendment will be a requirement of all naturalized citizens not making aliya under the Law of Return.

While it has received the support of many lawmakers, not only those on the Right, the amendment has also been slammed by a number of MKs and Israeli NGOs.

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) said Sunday “there is no country in the world that forces its citizens or those naturalizing to swear their loyalty to an ideology or a sectarian obligation,” adding, “Israel is proving that it is not egalitarian and is in fact democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs.”

The Abraham Fund Initiative, an NGO that works on improving Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel said ahead of the passing of the amendment Sunday that it “will be another severe discriminatory and antidemocratic step that places obstacles in the path of Arab citizens and makes their lives in Israel more difficult.

“The timing of the decision is particularly problematic and insensitive as this month marks the 10-year anniversary of the October 2000 events, and it transmits an especially negative message to the Arab citizens of Israel.”

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