Thousand of protesters rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday against Israel's new law declaring it the nation-state of the Jewish people, legislation that has angered the country's Arab minority and drawn criticism overseas.
A giant banner depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with "Crime Minsiter" inscribed on it, is spread on the ground as Arabs and their supporters protest against the "nation-state law" in Tel Aviv, August 11, 2018.
The bill has been rejected by Palestinians and members of the worldwide community, which has called the bill an apartheid law, because it recognizes the right to self-determination as an exclusive right for the country's Jewish majority, and downgrades the status of Arabic, from official language to "special status". "Yes to Equality." Protesters waved Israeli and Palestinian flags, wore kufiyas, and held signs condemning the law as enshrining apartheid.
The leader of Meretz, Tamar Zandberg, slammed the bill when it passed in parliament, saying it effectively divided Israel into classes.
"We have never dared to challenge the Jewish identity of the state, and no one can teach us what sacrifice is, and no one can preach loyalty to us", Tarif said. The critics of the bill argue that its wording makes some 1.8 million Israeli Arabs, a quarter of the population, second-class citizens. Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.
Many Jewish Israelis, including top retired security officials and politicians, have also harshly criticized the law.
Arab lawmaker and head of the Joint (Arab) List, Ayman Odeh, told Ynet that "thousands of Arabs and Jews are making their way to Tel Aviv with a democratic and ethical message (against) the nation-state law". Israel is a Jewish and democratic state.
It stipulates that "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it". It also allows the existence of Jewish-only communities, and sets Hebrew as the official language, relegating Arabic from an official language to one with "special status".
"I feel ashamed that after 70 years I have to accentuate my nationalism instead of being generous towards all those who live here", said Gila Zamir, 58, a Jewish Israeli from the Arab-Jewish city Haifa.
"The prime minister has chose to rank the citizens of Israel: Jewish are first-class, Druze are second-class, Arabs and LGBT are fourth-class", Zandberg stated incisively, alluding to the passage of another law recently passed that precludes the gay community from surrogacy parenthood.
Israel's Arab political leadership hopes the protest will be the beginning of an enduring popular struggle against what they claim is a discriminatory law. Rights groups and Jewish groups in the Diaspora have spoken against the legislation, as have the EU, Egypt and Israel's own president.
Members of the Druze community also took part in Saturday's rally. The Druze are followers of a secretive offshoot of Shiite Islam and are considered fiercely loyal to the state and serve in Israel's military, unlike most of the country's other Arab citizens.
Last week's march, which was organized by the Druze community, gathered 50,000 people.