Published: Thu, August 09, 2018

Druze army vets campaign against Israel's Jewish state law

Druze army vets campaign against Israel's Jewish state law

Israeli Arab leaders on Tuesday filed a almost 60-page-long petition against the newly enacted Jewish Nation-State law, calling the legislation "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights" and in contradiction to global law.

The nation-state law is part of Israel's so-called Basic Law, a de facto constitution.

Other than in Israel, "there is no constitution in the world today containing a clause that determines that the state belongs to one ethnic group or that a given state is exclusive to a certain ethnic group", said Tuesday's petition, submitted by the Israeli human rights group Adalah on behalf of the High Follow-Up Commitee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors and the Arab bloc in the Knesset.

The law includes legally preserving Israel's "democratic" character, its state symbols (national anthem, flag, icon), Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Hebrew as the official language and the right of return for Diaspora Jewry.

The petition says that the law is "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights and contravenes global human rights norms, especially those forbidding laws that constitute a racist constitution".

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who has been pushing to curb the powers of Israel's Supreme Court, has said that if the high court strikes the law down, it will be an "earthquake" that would begin "a war between branches of government".


But critics, both at home and overseas, say it undermines Israel's commitment to equality for all its citizens outlined in the constitution.

The Palestinian leadership in Israel took legal steps on Tuesday to bring down the new Jewish Nation-State Law, which they say is racist and discriminates against the original Palestinian Arab population in Israel. "[The law also] demotes Arabic from its previous status as an official language and declares that Arabic will not be an official language in this land for the first time in modern history". It has prompted particular outrage from Israel's Druze minority, whose members say the law's provisions render them second-class citizens.

It called on the Israeli Supreme Court to annul the law, arguing that it also violates the United Nations charter by denying the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Many people, myself included, disagree with that decision, inter alia because constitutional legislation should reflect a broad consensus, whereas many Basic Laws were approved by only narrow majorities or even minorities of the Knesset.

Since it was passed, three petitions against the law have been filed to the High Court, demanding it be overturned on constitutional grounds.

The nation-state law does not "contradict or supersede the basic laws that protect and guarantee individual rights of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender", she wrote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to placate the Druze with a package of benefits, but efforts to negotiate it have stalled.

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