A Jewish Nation or a Democratic State?

The Nation-State Law is a fact. It was passed with a comfortable majority and the Knesset members can go and enjoy their well-deserved recess.
I am an Israeli. I have lived here for forty years. I married an Israeli woman. I have four Israeli children. I live in a small Israeli village. I work for a large Israeli company. I have Israeli friends. Israel is my home.
Years ago, when I lived in this country as a permanent resident because I did not want to relinquish my Dutch citizenship, my children urged me to request Israeli citizenship, because “how can you complain or influence an entity that you are not a part of?” Therefore, I became an Israeli citizen and was allowed to vote for the Knesset and “make my opinion felt”.
Today, being an Israeli is no longer sufficient. The Nation-State Law leaves no doubt or uncertainty: Israel is the home of the Jews and all others will be tolerated at best. Equal rights and all, of course, but do not feel too at home, if you are not Jewish, this is not your home.
The originator of the law, Avi Dichter said it very eloquently in the Knesset: “We were here before you, and we will be here after you”.
So what is next? Where do we go from here? Is this just going to be another one of those “political Crises” we have had for years every second week and which are never properly solved but buried in a committee? (Except the disputes with the Haredi parties of course, which are settled through money). Or is this something that will wake up the population and create a real opposition that will also have an effect in the end?
Opposition to the law has been voiced mainly (but not only!) from left wing organizations and this is encouraging because the resistance to the law has to come from within. It has to come from the Jews.
The fact that the Palestinians deplore the law and make all kinds of comparisons, was expected and may have merit, but it will not make an impact and probably wasn’t meant to do so in any case.
A special case is the Druze community in Israel, a minority of some 140,000 people. The Druze have, from the establishment of the State of Israel, had a special relation with the Jewish State, they strongly identify as Israelis and their sons serve in the army (in fact, according to statistics, a larger percentage of Druze men serve in the IDF than of Jewish men), some in senior positions.
Because of the strong relationship of Israel with the Druze, the Nation-State law did touch a raw nerve in this community and unrest among the Druze population is rising. The issue of the military draft is being discussed again, several Druze career officers already have announced their resignation from the army, Druze Knesset members have petitioned the Supreme Court and the atmosphere in the Druze villages in the North is grim.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is too shrewd a politician not to have seen this coming (but had more pressing reasons for having the law passed), did get worried by the strong Druze reaction and (surprisingly!) set up a commission to deal with the rights and the status of the Druze in Israel.
Because of the urgency of the matter, the committee did meet quickly and even Netanyahu took part in the discussions. Some form of agreement was in the works, but the last meeting of the committee lasted only minutes, before Netanyahu left in anger, ostensibly because one of the Druze participants used the word “Apartheid” to describe what Israel as a State has become.  The term “Apartheid” describes the legally sanctioned discrimination based on race that was the basis of South African law from the 60s until the early 90s and is very specific to the local South African situation. But, in a generalized manner, where “Apartheid” is a separation between segments of the population based on race, where one dominant race receives more rights and privileges than the others, the situation in Israel may be analyzed as certainly heading in that direction and it is frightening to ponder the consequences of this trend, both short-term and long-term.
However, semantics is the least of Israel’s problems in this matter. Netanyahu is very conscientiously and in a very focused manner, attempting to deal with the crisis of confidence with the Druze community, by making suggestions on the position of the Druze in Israel society, and of course by promising to spend money.  And the Druze leadership is falling for this sly tactics, or maybe they are simply taking what they can get and will gain improvement of the situation of the Druze community and to hell with the rest.  It is maybe a very pragmatic approach, make the best of the situation that has arisen, but it will not solve the main problem that Israel has to deal with: an encroaching racism that has now been enshrined in law.
On Saturday evening, a large demonstration was held in Tel Aviv, organized by the Druze community to protest the Nation-State law. I did not go. This was not my demonstration and I think it was a mistake of the Druze community to organize it. The demonstration, the opposition to this racist law has to come from the Jews. The Druze may gain “special status” in Israel, which may be beneficial to them but will only make them accomplices to legally sanctioned racism. The Jews have to come to the understanding that the Zionist idea has sprouted the kind of situations the Jews were trying to escape from and that the Jewish Nation may indeed be a Jewish Nation but it is a racist State. The repeal of the Nation-State law has to come from pressure that the Jews exert on their government. Only then, the trend towards apartheid may be reversed and Israel can again start to concentrate on being a Democratic State and the home of all its inhabitants.
I may even start to feel “at home” here.