Protest against Nationality Law at Tira Junction

Arab Israelis to protest Nationality Law in Tel Aviv

Thousands expect to attend protest rally, which in addition to Arab citizens also includes a slew of left-wing organizations and parties; 'Our statement is clear: All citizens—all of them—are equal,' say participating organizations.

Thousands of Arab Israelis will arrive in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening for a protest against the Nationality Law as part of a campaign launched earlier this week.



The protest march will begin at Rabin Square at 8pm and end with a rally outside Beit Jabotinsky. Organizers instructed protesters not to wave any flags—neither Israeli nor Palestinian.


The speakers at the rally include former MK Mohammad Barakeh, who heads the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel; Mazen Ghanayem, the head of the National Committee for the Heads of the Arab Local Authorities; Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken; sociologists Prof. Eva Illouz and Dr. Maha Karkabi Sabah; and historian Kais Firro. 

Protesters at Tira Junction against the Nationality Law
Protesters at Tira Junction against the Nationality Law


The organizations and political parties taking part in the protest include the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, Peace Now, the Israel Religious Action Center, Standing Together, Sikkuy, The Coalition Against Racism in Israel, the Mossawa Center, Labor Party youth, Hadash, Meretz, Ta'al, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Zazim—Community Action, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, Kulan, the Socialist Struggle Movement, the New Israel Fund and Shatil.


In a joint statement, the participating organizations said that the Nationality Law "will turn racism, discrimination, humiliation and segregation into an inseparable part of our lives. Furthermore, racism and discrimination are turning into something desired and central in the State of Israel. The Nationality Law will bring the exclusion and harm of minorities to frightening records, the likes of which we've never seen."


"Our statement is clear: All citizens—all of them—are equal," the participating organizations declared. "But the government won't recognize this, because they don't have solutions to offer any of us—not to the housing crisis, not to the elderly and the disabled, not to the high cost of living, not to the collapsing health system, and not to the crisis with Diaspora Jews—they pass unnecessary, frightening and discriminatory laws like the Nationality Law. This law incites, confuses and separates us, the citizens of the State of Israel."


On Saturday night, they said, "we'll go out on the streets and say: We're all equal citizens—Arabs and Jews, women and men, Mizrahi Jews, Ethiopians, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, members of the LGBT community."


"This segregation and discrimination law is going to leave large portions of the population outside: Ourside of communities with acceptance committees, outside of fair treatment at courts, outside of the citizenry, outside of democracy. We won't allow this," the statement concluded.


Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka said the protest in Tel Aviv was the opening shot of the Arab Israelis' campaign to cancel "the colonial and racist" Nationality Law and "all other discriminatory laws."


Zahalka removed from the Knesset after protesting Nationality Law (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Zahalka removed from the Knesset after protesting Nationality Law (Photo: Amit Shabi)


Zahalka asserted the law cannot be amended and must therefore be nixed entirely. "Adding the word 'equality' is not going to save it, as it will contain the seeds of racism in any version. Those who settle for amending the law merely want to give it a mask of hypocrisy, no more," he accused.


"Those who truly oppose the law must adopt the simple and universal principle of a 'state of all its citizens.' Any proposal not based on full equality to all—on both the individual and group level—will be racist and lead to racist practices," Zahalka opined.


He did see a silver lining, saying "despite the fact the law is dangerous and catastrophic, it gives us a clear document that reflects reality and intentions, and from today it's easier to convince elements in the world that the regime in Israel is colonial and racist, and has clear characteristics of forbidden apartheid."


"It's easier to convince the world the Arab citizens in Israel are a minority under threat and must be protected of the tyranny of an aggressive majority that tramples over human rights by leaning on the assertion the state only belongs to some of the citizens, not all of them," the Arab MK added.


Zahalka also argued that the law hurts the rights of the entire Palestinian people, and called for an appropriate Palestinian response, which will include a general strike of Palestinians everywhere.


High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel announces campaign against Nationality Law (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel announces campaign against Nationality Law (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List party, said that he expects people to take to the streets in their thousands in order to express their disagreement with the contentious law.


"Tens of thousands of Arabs and Jews are on their way in buses to Tel Aviv, because today we insist on delivering a clear message—a democratic state is for all its citizens. There is no statement more ethical than seeing tens of thousands of people take to the streets in protest of this apartheid law,” he asserted.


“The Nationality Law is designed to expel the Arab citizens from their lands. This law harms us in a very cruel manner under the supervision of this radical government. MKs should listen to the demands of the Arab population and resign in order to establish our own parliament that will manage our affairs without interventions from the Knesset,” vented Odeh.


However, there are those in the Arab sector that chose not to attend Saturday’s protest in Tel Aviv, following a decision to ban Palestinian flags from the demonstration.


Maher Masarwa, a Wadi Ara resident, claimed that prohibiting the flag is unlawful.


“I would have liked to join the protest but after hearing that Palestinian flags will not be allowed, I decided against it. There is no law in this country that bans the waving of our flags. No one should have the authority to make a decision such as this one,” he raged.

Israel's Arab minority launched their own struggle against the controversial Nationality Law on Tuesday, with the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel demanding to cancel it and Adalah petitioning the High Court of Justice against it.


They said they sought the help of EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini on the matter and that representatives from the committee will meet with her on September 4.


At the same time, the High Follow-Up Committee also turned to the UN secretary-general as well as other international elements, asking them to immediately intervene against the legislation.


Last Saturday night, some 90,000 members of the Druze community and their supporters gathered at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to protest the Nationality Law. Israel's Bedouin minority also came out against the legislation, which determines only Jews have a right for self-determination in the country.


פרסום ראשון: 08.11.18, 16:30
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