Thousands attend Arab-led rally against Israeli bill

Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky

"It's not a big deal to demand equal rights for people you totally agree with", she said.

Tens of thousands of Arab Israelis and their supporters chanted against "apartheid" and for "equality" on Saturday in central Tel Aviv at a rally protesting a law that declares Israel the nation state of the Jewish people.

This is a law of racists that won't stand. Bibi, what will you say about an Arab doctor who takes care of a Jewish patient? "What concerned [the protesters] were things that were totally irrelevant to the law, like the right of return and [Palestinian] national rights".

She said the division over the rally among opposition lawmakers was splintering efforts to amend or strike down the law. "When the entire Zionist Union faction, which claims to be the opposition, doesn't go to a rally for Arab equality, it is undermining equality in Israel", Rozin said. They share the ethnicity and culture of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and often identify with Palestinian nationalism, rather than Israeli.

The flags were only a small part of the Saturday night rally, but they were instantly seized upon by right-wing politicians and others.

The rally marked further fallout from the explosive Nation-State law and came a week after thousands of Druze, also members of the Arab minority, packed the same city square last week. Perhaps it could have been presented in way more inclusive of Israel's minorities.

The Jewish Nation-State Law's language cements a right to self-determination in Israel for the Jewish people, and addresses this in regard to language, flag, state symbols, holidays, and the status of the Jewish diaspora. They make up about a fifth of the state's 9 million people.

The presence of Palestinian flags at the rally also drew criticism from Jewish Home MK Uri Ariel, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Likud ministers Ofir Akunis and Miri Regev.

The protesters marched through the streets of the city on Saturday night calling for the law's cancellation.

Netanyahu later commented on the Arab-led rally and the Palestinian flags being waved, saying "we will continue to raise the Israeli flag and sing Hatikva (national anthem) with pride".

"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.

"This is fantastic. This is the first time I remember Jews and Palestinians fighting together for something". 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". "They came to say this is not the end of the demonstrations, but the first serious demonstration against the Nation State law".

It has prompted particular outrage from Israel's Druze minority, whose members say the law's provisions render them second-class citizens. "Seventy years ago, Israel was established by a declaration that defined it as a Jewish state that will be open to Jewish immigration, that will foster the development of the country for its residents, and maintain full equality of civil and political rights for all its citizens irrespective of religion, race or gender".

"The prime minister has made a decision 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. Last week, at least 50,000 Israelis attended the Druze-led demonstration against the law in Rabin Square.

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