Photo: Motti Kimchi
Druze officials blast waving of Palestinian flags at Tel Aviv protest
Former MK Shachiv Shnaan, whose son was killed last year in a Jerusalem terror attack while on duty as a policeman, and Zionist Union MK Saleh Saed say waving flag at anti-Nationality Law protest was 'unnecessary defiance' and not in keeping with the demonstration main message of seeking equality in 'the strongest democracy in the world.'
A former Druze MK and serving MK have stated their opposition to the waving of Palestinian flags at a mass demonstration held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night against the recently-passed Nationality Law.
“We are against the waving of the Palestinian flag. I think that it’s unnecessary,” said former MK Shachiv Shnaan, whose son, Border Policeman Kamil Shnaan, was killed last year in a terror attack carried out on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
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.
“If you protest because you want equality in your country, why wave flags of another state?” he asked. “But it isn’t anything new that Arab Israelis have a continued identity problem. They are torn between the national Palestinian identity and their real lives in Israel in partnership with the state.
“We waved two flags only: the Israeli flag and the Druze flag, which does not diminish our Israeliness,” Shnaan emphasized, drawing a distinction between the character of Saturday night's protest and that held by the Druze community last week.
MK Saleh Saed (Zionist Union) also echoed Shachiv’s disapproval, telling Ynet that waving the Palestinian flag had no place at the protest. “That was unnecessary defiance that harms our justified campaign against the Nationality Law,” the Druze politician said.
“There is also no place for statements condemning Israel, but I will continue to fight for the rights of people and to express difference opinions of mine,” he added. “That is legitimate, that’s democracy and that is also the beautiful Israel that always proves that it is the strongest democracy in the world.”
Amnon Be’eri Sulitzeanu, co-director-general of the Abraham Fund Initiatives—which works for a “shared future for Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens”—noted, however, that no major negative impact was caused by the flags.
“Despite the important decision by the follow-up committee not to wave national flags, Palestinian flags were nevertheless waved, and a few Israeli flags alongside them, and no disaster occurred,” Sulitzeanu said.
“Just as the Israeli flag is the flag of Jews and is waved with pride by Jews in marches in different places in the world, it should also be acceptable to wave the Palestinian national flag by Arab Palestinian Israeli citizens, which is their flag,” he continued.
“Many citizens, Jews and Arabs, who marched today in the streets of Tel Aviv against the Nationality Law proved that there is a willingness in Israel to adopt values and policies of shared lives and of equality for all citizens."
Arab protesters voiced anger on Saturday evening at what they said was a poor turnout at the mass demonstration against the Nationality Law, stating that the rally should have attracted more than the tens of thousands of people who showed up.
“This protest should be the opening shot of a wave of protests, including at the parliamentary, public and media level,” said Kamil Agbariyah, a resident of Jaffa who attended the protest.
According to Agbariyah, the protest on its own will not suffice in overturning the law. “There’s no doubt that we will have to take many more steps, Arabs and Jews together. The campaign here is not about Arabs against Jews, but rather about equality and democracy.