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Photo: Avi Moalem
Gabi Ashkenazi
Photo: Avi Moalem
Former top defense officials to rally against Nationality Law
Among the former officials who intend to take part in a protest to be held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square are former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and former Mossad director Tamir Pardo; 'Anyone who cares must come to Rabin Square on Saturday night and join the fight.'

Several former chiefs of Israel's defense establishment are expected to arrive at a Tel Aviv demonstration staged by the Druze community against the controversial Nationality Law on Saturday night that restricts the right of self-determination in Israel to Jews alone.

 

 

Among the people originally expected to participate in the demonstration in Rabin Square were members of the spiritual leadership of the Druze community, leading Druze women and the Forum of Local Council heads.

 

However, it is unclear whether leaders will attend or whether the rally will in the end take place following an agreement reached Wednesday evening between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Druze leaders—which was accepted by Drzue MKs—to end the dispute.

 

Druze protesting against the Nationality Law (Photo: The Druze Community in Israel Facebook page)
Druze protesting against the Nationality Law (Photo: The Druze Community in Israel Facebook page)

 

Former IDF Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Mossad director Tamir Pardo, former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin, former MK Ami Ayalon, former Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi, former Generals Matan Vilnai, Avi Mizrahi and Amiram Levin, and former Brigadier Generals Giora Inbar and Amal Assad, have announced their intention to attend the protest.

 

In addition, distinguished academics are expected to join the demonstration, among them Prof. Asa Kasher, Prof. Uriel Reichman and Professor Yedidia Z. Stern.

 

Former chiefs of the Israeli Defense establishment
Former chiefs of the Israeli Defense establishment

 

"The Nationality Law hurts our democracy by quashing the value of equality and therefore I, as a Jew, will not rest until the law is annuled or amended," said Brigadier General (res.) Giora Inbar on Tuesday.

 

"I cannot see my Druze friends, the Circassians, the Bedouins, or any other group—officers and fighters over whom I commanded and with whom I fought side by side in the most difficult and dangerous battles—get hurt by this law," Inbar added.

 

"I am not going to accept the fact that my position here is different from theirs only because I was born a Jew. Anyone who cares must come to Rabin Square on Saturday and join the fight for the characteristics of the state and its values," the General called.  

 

Druze IDF soldiers (Photo: Dan Bronfeld)
Druze IDF soldiers (Photo: Dan Bronfeld)
 

 

The demonstration organizers stressed that the protest is not restricted to members of the Druze community alone. "This is a social protest for preserving the balance of the state as a Jewish and democratic state," they said.

 

"This protest is vital and significant for all Israeli citizens who recognize the importance in preserving Israel's democratic character," the organizers added.

 

The organizers set up a tent in Rabin Square Tuesday night, on which flags of the Druze community were hung alongside flags of the State of Israel.

 

Jaber Habish, a reserve officer establishing a protest tent in Rabin Square (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Jaber Habish, a reserve officer establishing a protest tent in Rabin Square (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

 

The Nationality Law, sponsored by MK Avi Dichter (Likud) among others, enshrines into law the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

 

The law has caused controversy since it passed into law in the Knesset last month. The clause stating that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country has been the subject of fierce criticism and has caused offense among the Druze minority, many of whom serve the country loyally in the IDF.

 

The Nationality Law also states that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and that Hebrew is the official language of the state. Arabic, spoken by the Druze community, was downgraded as an official language and defined as having a special status, with the official state use of Arabic to be determined in separate legislation.

 

The law legally anchors in law Israel's democratic character, its state symbols, Jerusalem as the capital, Hebrew as the official language and the right of return for Diaspora Jewry.

 


First published: 08.01.18, 20:48
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