Tens of thousands protest in Tel Aviv against nation-state law

2018-08-12 20:09

Tens of thousands of people including Jews and Arabs rallied in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv to protest the country's controversial "Jewish state law".

Passed last month, the divisive law officially affirms Israel's Jewish character, but critics say it turns non-Jewish citizens of the country into second-class citizens, further marginalising some 1.8 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and other minorities.

The protesters marched through the streets of the city on Saturday night calling for the law's cancellation.

"This is amazing. This is the first time I remember Jews and Palestinians fighting together for something. This is a really big moment for people that believe in democracy and equality," an unidentified demonstrator told Al Jazeera.

A Jewish participant agreed saying all citizens of Israel should be equal under the law.

"We, a lot of Israelis, believe that they [minorities] are entitled to be equal to us," protester Dan Meiri said. "It is the Jewish state but the people that live here are entitled to be equal to us across the board in education, in the army, in the universities, in the parliament - all over."

'Anti-democratic moves'

The measure, pushed through last month by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declares the right to national self-determination is uniquely Jewish.

The law states that Hebrew is the official language of Israel, downgrading the status of Arabic. Previously, both Hebrew and Arabic were official languages.

The nation-state bill also establishes Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as a "national value" that the state must encourage.

"This law is against us, against the Arabic language, against peace, against our future in this land. We are the real people of this land," said demonstrator Omar Sultan.

For others, the protest was not only about this specific bill but the direction Israel is going in.

"We have anti-democratic moves taking place in many things - towards gays, toward women, toward secularism, and toward Palestinians. This is turning into a fascist regime," a protester told Al Jazeera.

"It's not yet there, but it's going in a bad direction."

Druze protests

Last week, thousands from the Druze minority protested against the law under the motto, "Equal rights for all citizens".

The Druze are an Arabic-speaking group with their own distinct religious and cultural traditions. They make up 2% of Israel's 8.8 million population, and are found mainly in the northern regions of Galilee and Carmel.

The Druze have had special status since the 1950s when they were drafted into the military, unlike Israel's Muslim and Christian populations.

Netanyahu has repeatedly defended the contentious law passed on July 19.

"We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel's democracy but the majority also has rights and the majority decides," he said a week before it passed.

"An absolute majority wants to ensure our state's Jewish character for generations to come."

Israel's Palestinian population comprises mainly the descendants of those who remained on their land since 1948, the time of the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

The fledgling state consolidated its control over Palestinian lands on the back of an ethnic cleansing campaign in which hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes.

Those who remained have full equal rights under the law, but face constant discrimination, including inferior services and unfair allocations for education, health and housing.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    israel  |  middle east peace

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.