Disabled Druze IDF soldiers protest against Nation-State law
Disabled Druze IDF soldiers protested in front of Netanyahu's home. But lawmakers are standing strong on the law meant to protect the state's Jewish character.
By BEN BRESKYUpdated: JANUARY 25, 2019 12:26
Druze-Israelis and their supporters protested in front of the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday morning against the Nation-State Law.IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal As’ad and IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin led the march claiming that the law was unfair to non-Jewish minorities.The Nation-State Law, passed in July, officially declares Israel to be the historic homeland of the Jewish people and among other issues, makes Hebrew the official state language, with Arabic being given "special status."The rally was attended by former IDF soldiers of Druze descent who held posters and waved Israeli flags and the flag of the Druze community."We have no argument against the law of nationality and against a Jewish state. We simply want the state to belong to all of us, Jews and non-Jews alike," As'ad said. "We are not guests here. We were born here and we will die here," he added.One demonstrator stated, "we are patriots and no one should label us leftists. We seek equality in a democratic state." Other speakers at the rally included permanently disabled IDF soldiers, some wheelchair-bound due to battle injuries.IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin stated, "This is not a matter of left-wing or right-wing. This is not a matter of Druze, Arabs or Jews. This law is unnecessary and does not contribute anything to Israel as a Jewish state. Levin, of Jewish heritage, is a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, Fist Lebanon War, and Operation Grapes of Wrath and continues to serve in the reserves.AdvertisementThe Druze are an Arabic-speaking Middle-Eastern ethnic group with their own distinct religion. They have historically served in the IDF and in various aspects of Israeli society, unlike Israeli-Arabs who have a more complicated history with the state.Member of Knesset Amir Ohana, Chairman of the National Law Committee, countered the demonstrators' claims stating "this campaign is based entirely on false propaganda stemming from the left's attempt to misrepresent the well-meaning citizens of Israel."He defended the Nation-State Law saying "Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, whose language is Hebrew, whose Menorah symbolizes the country, whose national anthem is Hatikva, and whose capital is united Jerusalem - and so will remain."Prior to the law, which was enshrined as part of the Basic Laws of the country, the national anthem and other Jewish symbolism were never officially incorporated. Proponents of the law argued that it was necessary in the face of attempts by Israelis identifying as Palestinians who may seek to undermine it's historic Jewish character. Opponents of the law, including As'ad, argue that it is a slap in the face to non-Jewish natives of the country boarding on apartheid.MK Ohana concluded, "the Basic Law of the nation will not be erased, corrected, or amended because there is nothing to correct."Friday's rally was the culmination of a string of meetings held by As'ad, the leader of the Task Force to Amend the Nation-State Law over the past two weeks. He has met with leading candidates in the upcoming national elections demanded that changes be made to the Nation-State Law.In an interview with The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Ma'ariv, As'ad said "Israel needs to always retain its Jewish majority... but not cause us to feel like second-class citizens. I've been a Likud member for 20 years. I believe in the values of [Zionist leader Ze'ev] Jabotinsky, who stated: 'equality for all'"Another Likud member of Druze heritage, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara has publicly supported the Nation-State Law. He told The Jerusalem Post in July, “I am still proud and happy the bill passed, but I am unhappy that there is disinformation and an atmosphere in which black is made white and white, black.”Kara said the rights of the Druze were already guaranteed by other Basic Laws.“Our democracy [includes] those who don’t know how to accept other views,” Kara said. “Nothing will deter me. I am a man of ideology and values. They are writing to me that I will be erased and that the bill wouldn’t have passed without me. Even if they take off my head, I will continue to support the bill.”