Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality'

19:30 Aug 11 2018 Rabin Square, Tel Aviv

Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality' Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality' Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality' Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality' Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality' Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality' Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality' Thousands chant 'No to the nation-state law, yes to equality'
Scenes (4). Published by Maan News

Protest against the nation-state law, August 11, 2018. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum. Published by Haaretz

Tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters protest in Rabin Square against the Jewish Nation-State Law, August 12, 2018. (Oren Ziv/ Published by 972Mag

Palestinian citizens take part in a protest against the Jewish Nation-State Law, central Tel Aviv, August 12, 2018. (Oren Ziv/ Published by 972Mag

Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz speaks during a rally of Palestinian citizens of Israel against the Jewish Nation-State Law, central Tel Aviv, August 12, 2018. (Oren Ziv/ Published by 972Mag

TEL AVIV (Ma'an) -- AUG. 12, 2018 12:58 P.M. (UPDATED: AUG. 13, 2018 11:32 A.M.)

Palestinian flags were seen held high during a demonstration in which tens of thousands of Arabs and Jews marched on Saturday in Tel Aviv, to protest against the controversial Nationality Law.

About 30,000 protesters gathered in the Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and marched towards the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where the main rally took place. Throughout the demonstration, Arabs and Jews came together to protest the Nationality Law and demanded for it to be annulled under the slogan “No to the nation-state law, yes to equality.”

Despite the protest organizers’ decision to ban the waving of flags, several protesters were seen waving Israeli and Palestinian flags throughout the event.

In response to the raised Palestinian flags, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on his Twitter account a video from the demonstration of a few protesters waving the Palestinian flag and chanting "With spirit, with blood we shall redeem you, Palestine" and wrote "There is no better evidence of the Nationality Law's necessity."

The message of the protest organizers regarding the demonstration stated “Our statement is clear: All citizens, all of them, are equal.”

Among those who spoke at the event were former MK Muhammad Barakeh, Chairman of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Affairs, Mazen Ganaim, Mayor of Sakhnin and Chairman of the National Council of Arab Community Leaders, Prof. Eva Illouz and many others.

Former MK Muhammad Barakeh, expressed his support for those waving the Palestinian flag and said "It is the flag that the Nationality Law tries to erase from history, but it is the flag of a proud nation.”

Barakeh stressed “All the Jews and all the Arabs are rushing to the square in their thousands in order to repeal this abomination of a law and remove the stain left by the Netanyahu government. Israel and Zionism have two options to choose from -- genocide or apartheid. We are here together -- Arabs and Jews -- to say that we will not allow it.”

Barakeh strongly concluded “Prime Minister Netanyahu, we will not go away, you will.”

The Mayor of Taybeh, Shuaa Mansour Masaru, spoke during the event, labeling the Nationality Law as “very dangerous” and said “We gathered here to protest against this racist law which states that there are two types of human beings in this country.”

Masaru warned that due to the law, Israeli government institutions might stop the use of Arabic language completely.

Masaru explained “It is possible that there will be a decision to prevent the use of Arabic language in all public institution altogether. Another thing that might happen following the law is that on Independence Day minority members will be prevented from raising any other flag other than the Israeli one. This law is racist and not in line with international law.”

Former MK Issam Makhoul emphasized the importance of the demonstration “This is one of the most important demonstrations, that demands an alternative to the current way of thinking in Israel, the one that is dangerous to both nations, which tries to delegitimize the Arab sector. We are part of this country’s landscape.”

MK Michal Rozin, member of the Meretz, a left-wing, social-democratic and green political party, also criticized Netanyahu’s government.

Rozin stressed "We will not comply with this ‘divide and rule’ policy of the Netanyahu government. Anyone who believes that the government that discriminates today against one community will not discriminate against another community tomorrow, is mistaken. One cannot oppose the Nationality Law and advocate equality for all.”

The organizations and political parties that attended the protest included the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, Peace Now, the Israel Religious Action Center, Standing Together, Sikkuy, The Coalition Against Racism in Israel, the Mossawa Center, Labor Party youth, Hadash, Meretz, Ta'al, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Zazim - Community Action, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, Kulan, the Socialist Struggle Movement, the New Israel Fund and Shatil.

Arab Protest in the Heart of Israel Sends Clear Message: We're Here to Stay

In recent years, Arab-Israeli society has shown indifference to protests and lack of faith in its leadership. But the nation-state law was a slap in their face.

by Jack Khoury for Haaretz
Aug 13, 2018 10:52 PM

“We have on this land that which makes life worth living,” Mohammed Darwish wrote in one of his famous poems, expressing the aspiration of everyone everywhere – including Palestinians – to live a life of peace and dignity. This was the clear message of the tens of thousands of people who came to the demonstration Saturday night from all the Arab communities to the heart of Israel: We are here to stay. We do not live here temporarily. Those who lived through the Nakba and the military government, the protesters said, will live through the nation-state law too.

The demonstration and march Saturday night were not just one more protest by Arab society. The very decision to demonstrate in Tel Aviv, and not in an Arab community such as Nazareth or Sakhnin, was a clear message. Arab society will not give up its citizenship. This country was not empty in 1948.

One of the symptoms of Arab society in recent years has been indifference to any public protest. Internal differences of opinion and power struggles among the various political parties have eroded the faith of Arab society in their political leadership. Polarization on regional issues, first and foremost the war in Syria, have permeated Arab society and contributed to the crisis of confidence. Most marches and rallies have turned into a kind of get-together of MKs and a symbolic representation of the political parties, but the picture yesterday was entirely different. The protesters represented every level of Arab society, especially families and young couples, women and men, who came from the Galilee, the Arab communities in central Israel, the Negev and the mixed cities. The nation-state law has trickled down and struck at the indifferent grassroots, those who are not politically involved.

People who know Arab society recognized people in attendance who have historically not been part of the Arab parties’ electoral base, but rather of the Israeli establishment. Those people saw the Israeli establishment as a springboard and an opportunity to integrate into Israeli society. But the nation-state law was a slap in their face, and so they decided to come to the square. Quite a few were there with children and babies, unafraid of the crowds and clashes.

The demonstration and the march in Tel Aviv broke a barrier with Israeli society. Jews were prominently present, people who in ordinary times don’t join demonstrations; they certainly wouldn’t come all the way from the Galilee to protest. It can’t be compared to the rally the Druze held the week before because the component of the military was absent. Both sides know that residues of conflict can’t be made to disappear, no matter how big the rally, but the protest yesterday saw a few rays of light. Jews were not deterred by a Palestinian flag flying in the heart of Tel Aviv, Arabs did not call on Jews to leave the rally, but rather walked together with them. Each with his or her own beliefs, with one common denominator – to bring down the nation-state law.

As for Arab society internally, yesterday was a kind of referendum about its political leadership, including the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and the Joint List. This leadership can take credit for an achievement. But the leadership is also marred in a deep old debate about cooperating with Jews – are we all citizens of Israel, or should we focus on the Arab and Palestinian national viewpoint and seek political separation, including representation in the Knesset.

This debate has grown in recent days and cracked the show of unity the organizers sought. The challenge facing the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, with its various components, will largely depend on reducing internal divisions of opinion, and on its ability to channel the tailwind it received from Saturday night’s rally to continuing the public and democratic struggle to revoke the nation-state law and achieve equality for all citizens of Israel.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians and Jews protest Nation-State Law

Palestinian citizens of Israel, joined by their Jewish Israeli supporters, demonstrated against the Jewish Nation-State Law in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

By Haggai Matar for 972Mag
Published August 12, 2018

Over 30,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters demonstrated in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Saturday evening against the Jewish Nation-State Law. The protest, organized by the umbrella organization of Palestinian citizens in Israel, was one of several actions taken against the law, including petitions to the High Court of Justice as well as smaller demonstrations across the country. Saturday’s protest came a week after tens of thousands of Druze citizens came out to Rabin Square to protest the same law.

Related stories
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Who needs a Nation-State Law? What Israelis really think By Dahlia Scheindlin | August 3, 2018
Why the Israeli Left can't reconcile with the most Zionist law By Meron Rapoport | August 2, 2018
'World's largest Arabic lesson': A rebuke to the Jewish Nation-State law By Edo Konrad | July 31, 2018
Although the protest was set to begin at 7:30 p.m., thousands had already converged on Rabin Square hours earlier. Hundreds of Muslim protesters also took part in a mass prayer prior to the beginning of the rally. Protesters flew both Israeli and Palestinian flags, despite an earlier controversy among activists around the presence of national symbols at the demonstration. Shortly after 8 p.m., the demonstrators began marching toward Tel Aviv Museum, while chanting slogans against racism and fascism in both Hebrew and Arabic.

Twenty-six political parties, movements, and civil society organizations, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Peace Now, Sikkuy, Mossawa, and Amnesty International, called on the public to participate in the event. Hundreds of buses headed out from 70 different locations across the country, including from Druze and Bedouin villages.

The march ended with a rally outside the museum, and included remarks by Arab High Monitoring Committee Chairman Muhammad Barakeh, prominent Israeli sociologist Professor Eva Illouz, historian Professor Kais Firro, and Haaretz publisher Amos Schoken, among others.

“Not all Arabs and Jews think the same. But all the Jews and Arabs here came out in droves to the square to wipe out the abomination and erase the stain of Netanyahu and his government’s Jewish Nation-State Law. We will also erase the stain that is his government,” Barakeh told the crowd.

“We are not going to rest after this incredible protest,” Barekeh continued. “We are marking the beginning of the way and there is no way back until the law is rescinded. Our struggle will be here, a popular parliamentary and democratic struggle for Arabs as well as Jews.”

“I came to France from Morocco when I was 10 years old,” Eva Illouz told the crowd. “Although I was Jewish and from Morocco, I went to the same schools as the French, and my teachers gave me grades just like the French. I felt that I wasn’t defined by my origin or religion. As a girl I felt deep in my bones the meaning of living in a country where I am treated as an equal.”

The head of the local Arab councils, Mazen Ghaneim, said, “If we are silent today, tomorrow it will hurt you. 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 will you say to an Arab midwife? To a police officer or a teacher in Nazareth?”

Following Ghaneim, Haaretz publisher Amos Schoken got up to speak. “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.”

“There are deep disagreements about Israel’s identity and direction among those present tonight,” Schocken said. “But when a Basic Law harms the Palestinian minority in Israel, we must come together in order to ensure equal rights for all… the goal is clear: Palestinian citizens will be considered lesser.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Culture Minister Miri Regev, Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay and others criticized the protest, after photos showing demonstrators waving Palestinian flags went viral.

Meron Rapoport contributed to this report.
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