Majalli Wahabi
Photo: Eli Mendelbaum
Druze Israelis protest the Nation-State Law
Photo: Eli Mendelbaum

Time for politicians to be honest about the Nation-State Law

Opinion: As the elections near, the Israeli public, in particular its minorities, deserve to know who supports and who opposes legislation that strips away so many citizens' connection to their country.

When the State of Israel was established, the heads of all the political parties of the time demonstrated national and democratic responsibility for the country -— more than some of the politicians and Knesset members do these days.



The Declaration of Independence is the foundation on which Israel's democracy is based, and its values and principles have led the country so far. Two of these principles are the guarantee of freedom and justice for all, and full equality in social and political rights for all citizens — regardless of religion, race or gender.


Druze protests aginst the Nation State Law (Photo: Yariv Katz)
Druze protests aginst the Nation State Law (Photo: Yariv Katz)


But the Nation-State Law deprives Israel's non-Jewish citizens of these rights, which affirm that Israel is their country too. Therefore, as we approach the elections for the 21st Knesset on April 9, all parties must put the issue of the Nation-State Law on the table.


The law passed in July with a slim majority of 62 Knesset members, slightly more than half of the plenum, and the legislative process sparked heated debate over the cornerstones of Israeli identity. The elected officials who supported the law proved that they were less worthy of appreciation - and of election - than the leaders of the past.


Not only is the law fundamentally unacceptable because of the lack of equality, but also because of the harm it does to the sense of belonging felt by citizens from the Druze community or other minorities, who have tied their fate to Israel's, and who now feel that their affiliation to the state has been legislatively severed.


The Druze are partners in the building of the state: They fought for its establishment in the War of Independence and to this day perform compulsory military service. They are equal citizens in all responsibilities, but the Nation State Law came along and took from them and others their equality and their Israeli identity. Druze citizens have no problem with the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people - neither with its symbols nor with its anthem. But when proposals were made to amend the Nation-State Law in order to restore equality to all citizens, the supporters of the law were not prepared to accept them.


What does it mean for us? It means that if this is not our state, then you have turned us into mercenaries who have died for a state that is not ours. And there is one fundamental question that must be asked of the supporters of this law who refuse to amend it: Why are you so unwilling to guarantee equality for all? Not only did the supporters of this law decide to alienate us - now they are also attacking the very concept of a Jewish and democratic state. Do they wish to see Israel turn into South Africa?


To all those who argue that the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty already guarantees the foundations of democracy - this is a law that deals with individual rights and not with the nature and definition of the state's identity. The law actually deals with civil rights, and protects, among other things, the tourist, the migrant worker and even the terrorist. It is unreasonable to tell an Israeli citizen that the state recognizes him or her as a human being too - but nothing more than that.


The Druze citizens and their supporters who believe the Nation-State Law must be amended will keep fighting. This law has grave implications for our shared destiny, and therefore we will act in every democratic way at our disposal until this wrong is righted. But this is also a moral obligation shared by every political party competing in the elections. These parties must now have public debates on the Nation-State Law and clarify their positions on the matter. For those of us who oppose this law will make our feelings known at the ballot box.


The writer is a former Knesset member and deputy foreign minister



פרסום ראשון: 01.18.19, 15:59
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