Druze leader evokes Jabotinsky, arguing against Nation-State Law

Protest by Druze against the Nation-State Law to culminate Friday with protest opposite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Caesaria.

Amal Asad (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Amal Asad
Brigadier General (res.) Amal Asad, the leader of the Task Force to Amend the Nation-State Law, will bring his group to the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesaria this Friday. The event will be the culmination of a string of meetings held by the Task Force over the past two weeks with leading candidates in the upcoming elections, in which the group's members demanded that changes be made to the Nation-State Law.
The law, passed by the Knesset in July 2018, states that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, with Hebrew as its official language. It gives Arabic a "special status," whose regulation in state institutions will be determined by law. Israel's Arabic-speaking minority, especially the Druze community with members serving in the military, was angered by the law's passage for what they see as its discriminatory nature toward non-Jews.
The Task Force to Amend the Nation-State Law is made up of prominent Druze activists.
Asad hopes that the Netanyahu will step outside and listen to the message of the Task Force's members, and maybe even be convinced by them, but he admits that he doesn't have high expectations. Last August, following the stormy passage of the Nation-State Law, Netanyahu met with senior members of the Druze community, including Asad, in order to discuss possible steps to mend ties with the Druze. According to participants in the meeting, Netanyahu was infuriated by a Facebook post in which Asad asserted that Israel was moving toward apartheid, and the meeting was cut short.
"I'm not trying to fix things that happened afterward; I'm trying to fix an injustice," Asad said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Ma'ariv. "I want people to understand why we're injured by the Nation-State Law. It's important that the Prime Minister understand that we're not simply fighting for equality, but for our livelihood, for our sense of belonging in our country, for the identity of the country and for our security as Druze born, live and die here. Our fight is completely based on principle.
Asad continued that even though he said the Druze don't have as good a quality of life as Jews in Israel, that this isn't the main issue. "I'm fighting for my Israeli ID. It cannot be that the State of Israel, which is the national home of the Jewish people, is not also my home."
In response to a question of whether the Druze have national aspirations in the State of Israel, Asad replied in the negative. "I'm not looking to bring my fellow Druze here from Syria and Mt. Lebanon. I am for the Law of Return for Jews and for the in-gathering of the Jewish diaspora. I am for a Jewish majority [in Israel]. Israel needs to always retain its Jewish majority, but it also needs to remain a democracy and to provide full equality to all its citizens, and not cause us to feel like second-class citizens."
Asad voiced his disappointment with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for remaining supportive of the law. Kahlon, he accused, was pandering to his voters; regarding Shaked, he said, "I thought she had a spine."
"When she told us...that the Druze people are a foundation stone, part of the foundation of the State...I believed her," he continued. "But when we met at the entrance to her house, she stood in front of me and injured Druze war veterans, and said that the Nation-State Law would not be changed."
"I've been a Likud member for 20 years. I believe in the values of Jabotinsky, which say: equality for all," Asad said.