Netanyahu ends meeting with Druze leaders over 'apartheid' comment
Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Asad calls Israel an 'apartheid state' over the Nationality Law in Facebook post, leading the prime minister to walk out of meeting Asad attended; Druze protesters interrupt law sponsor MK Avi Dichter's remarks at event, with one activist calling the MK 'racist' and 'Nazi.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly ended a meeting on the Nationality Law with Druze leaders after one of them, Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Asad, called Israel an "apartheid state" in a Facebook post.
Netanyahu said he would not tolerate such an offense both to the prime minister Israel and to the State of Israel itself.
Some Druze mayors refused to attend the meeting.
Asad accused Netanyahu of planning the incident. "He had no intention of listening us, the officers who have a position contradictory to his own," Asad claimed. "He planned to come and take photos with the dignitaries, and say he's establishing committees. We came to present our positions."
Asad went on to say that "When he saw me, he said he didn't want to sit down with Amal, because I wrote that Israel is an apartheid state. If you didn't want to sit down with me, why did you invite me?"
He clarified he did not make his controversial accusation during the meeting itself, but in a Facebook post, where he also criticized the prime minister.
"I guess anyone who criticizes Netanyahu is X'ed out. I'm sorry I've been x'ed out. I'm proud of what I represent," he added. "We want the Nationality Law to change and to include me as an Israeli by law."
Zionist Union MK Saleh Saed, a Druze himself, criticized Asad's comment, saying it is "playing into the hands of the prime minister and hurts the Druze's fight. This is an unnecessary comment that should have not been said, and is in no way acceptable to me. The State of Israel is not an apartheid state."
Elsewhere, during a scholarship ceremony for Druze students at the ORT Braude College of Engineering, several Druze activists against the Nationality Law ran onto the stage and interrupted remarks by Likud MK Avi Dichter, one of the legislation's sponsors.
Dichter exclaimed in response: "I won't be called a 'Nazi!' Not by a Jew, an Arab, a Muslim or a Druze."
"I lost my family because of the Nazis, who murdered my mother's family and my father's family," he added.
Police officers who were called to the scene removed the two protesters from the ceremony.
MK Dichter left the event from a side exit, accompanied by police officers from the Yasam Special Patrol Unit.
After the event, he noted that the Druze's rage is a result of "a lot of disinformation," among other things.
"I don't recommend dismissing a Basic Law that passed with a 62 MKs majority," Dichter added.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which organized the event, tried to calm down the tensions.
"The Nationality Law that passed in the Knesset left you, along with many thousands from among Israel's minorities who are seeking to integrate into Israeli society and become an integral part of the State of Israel, embarrassed and distressed," he said.
"I'm sure my friend Avi Dichter, that I know the Druze community is close to his heart, did not expect or wish for this crisis. I'm sure no one thought this harm will happen and be so serious. I believe what's been done can be fixed," Eckstein continued.
"I call on my friend Avi and all members of the Knesset and government to create a quick solution for this terrible situation we've found ourselves in," he concluded.
Druze high-schoolers ask Netanyahu: Stop the law
More than 60 Druze high school students sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday, demanding to cancel the Nationality Law.
"We were raised looking up to our brothers, the IDF's Druze heroes, and on the legacy left to us by the 421 fallen Druze soldiers who were killed protecting the state. We, the future generation, are willing to give our lives to defend the homeland, just as the previous generations had done since the establishment of the state. The Druze community has always been and will always be alongside the Jewish people, facing any challenge. Like our fathers and their fathers before them, we too want to be full partners in the security of the state and in ensuring its future as a secure, just and equal nation," the students opened their letter.
Turning to the Nationality Law, the wrote: "Mr. Prime Minister, the Nationality Law passed by the Israeli government causes a deep crisis for us, because it says we're not citizens with equal rights in our country—the State of Israel. This is outrageous, because nowhere in the law is the principle of equality," they wrote.
"Despite the great anger, the insult and the crisis, we will continue contributing to the State of Israel, as we've been taught by our parents and leaders. We will always be loyal to our country. We love it and are willing to serve it like our fathers before us," they noted.
"We turn to you, Mr. Prime Minister: Stop the Nationality Law. Hear our cries. The courage you showed in battle—please show the same courage as prime minister. You can stop the law and send it back to discussions to make the necessary amendments."
Adir Yanko contributed to this story.