Protest in Tel Aviv against Nationality Law

Thousands arrive at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to protest Nationality Law and express solidarity with the Druze.

Ben Ariel ,

Protest against Nationality Law in Tel Aviv
Protest against Nationality Law in Tel Aviv
Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90

Thousands of people participated on Saturday night in a solidarity rally with the Druze community in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in protest against the Nationality Law.

The spiritual leader of the community, Sheikh Mu'afak Tarif, Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal As'ad, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and former army personnel, social activists and other local leaders were in attendance.

Before the rally, the organizers called on the Israeli public “to express its protest and stand by our Druze brethren in order to maintain the balance in the character of the state as Jewish and democratic.”

"This protest is vital and meaningful for all the citizens of the state who see the importance of preserving the democratic character of the State of Israel. Therefore, this is a protest of any citizen who views the law as a total distortion of the Declaration of Independence and protests the erasure of the value of equality from the definition of the state's identity."

Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union), speaking at the rally, said, "Bibi, make up your mind - this Nationality Law or the Declaration of Independence - which side are you on? The answer of the thousands who are here tonight is clear.”

“We can still reach unity around the Declaration of Independence instead of this Nationality Law. We pledge to enact the constitutional principles of the Declaration of Independence as a basic law so that the State of Israel will be the nation-state of the Jewish people with equal rights for its citizens. Both Jewish and democratic," she continued.

Livni added that "tens of thousands reminded the government that it had forgotten what the Declaration of Independence was. Back then there were leaders who knew for the sake of unity to put aside political disputes and considerations in order to deal with the challenge of establishing the state. Today, for the purpose of division, rule and political needs, Netanyahu is ready to tear up the Declaration of Independence and with it the Israeli society."

Earlier on Saturday, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) slammed the protest against the Nationality Law.

"While kites burn in the air and incendiary balloons continue endangering the lives of southern residents [Labor leader] Avi Gabbay and the leftist camp continue busying themselves with petty politics, trying to spark a fire between the Druze community and the Israeli government," Regev said, promising that "Gabbay and his leftist friends will not succeed."

A meeting that took place on Thursday between the staff of the Prime Minister's Office and the Druze community was called off abruptly after Brig.-Gen. Amal Ass'ad allegedly called the State of Israel an "apartheid state" and Netanyahu refused to have him remain in the room.