'Nationality Law does not hurt the Druze in any way'

Amid mounting Druze outcry over Nationality Law, MK Smotrich says law not designed to hurt minorities, blames opposition on the Left.

Tzvi Lev, AFP ,

Flash 90

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich denied that the Nationality Law was discriminatory towards Israel's Druze sector amid a mounting backlash from the community.

Opponents have called the law "racist" as it makes no mention of equality and Israel's democratic character, implying that the country's Jewish nature is paramount.

Members of Israel's 130,000-strong Druze community - many of whom willingly serve in the police and military - have been among those denouncing the law. Community leaders have filed a court challenge to the law, given final passage in the middle of the night on July 19. It becomes part of Israel's so-called basic laws, a de facto constitution.

According to Smotrich however, the law does not hurt any of Israel's minorities and contended that the backlash was engineered by the left. "Between us and the Druze community, there has been a courageous alliance for seven decades based on solidarity and loyalty to the principle of the Jewish state," tweeted Smotrich.

"The fact that the false campaign of opposition and the media manages to confuse some of the political activists of the Druze community, but the left's ability to so easily undermine the self-confidence of the right and the flag as the law of nationality shows that we have much more to accomplish in terms of real governance. "

According to the legislator, "the Nationality Law is not racist and does not discriminate against minorities, it is a trivial Zionist law and anyone who has not lived with it in peace also does not live in peace with the definition of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. "

"I am convinced that as much as the Druze are not there, this wave is a fiction just like many others, the media inflames the vocal minority in the community and uses the Druze community cynically only because it serves its agenda," added Smotrich.

Israeli lawmakers, including those who supported the legislation, have promised to amend the law after belatedly realizing that current bill has deeply insulted the Druze community. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon called for changes early Wednesday in response to Druze concerns, saying the law had been "passed in haste".

"The last thing we want is to harm the Druze community," Kahlon, whose Kulanu party is the second largest in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition, told Army Radio.

His comments followed similar ones yesterday by Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party.

Bennett, who was a prominent advocate for the law, said he had now realized damage was done, adding that the Druze were "our brothers who stand shoulder to shoulder with us on the battlefield".

"We, the government of Israel, have a responsibility to find a way to heal the rift," he said.