With the passing of the Jewish Nation-State Law, Israel has fundamentally redefined its relationship with its Palestinian minority. Now, Arab citizens are coming together to fight a law that entrenches their second-class status.
Tamer Nafar, the famed Palestinian rapper from the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lyd, said he regrets not participating in the Arab-led protest against the Jewish Nation-State Law last Saturday. Yet he believes he would have regretted joining the demonstration just as much.
Nafar, one of the progenitors of the hip hop scene in the Middle East, has built his career crafting sharp, punching lines that describe the reality of Israel’s Palestinians. His hesitation reflects a larger sense of unpreparedness – but not surprise – from the full impact of the Jewish Nation-State Law, which enshrined a superior set of rights for Jewish Israelis last month, and the direction in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government is headed.
“It’s scary. I have two kids, I don’t want them to suffer. The situation here is getting worse,” Nafar said.
Members of the Palestinian community in Israel launched a campaign to repeal the law — headed by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee — an umbrella organization that represents the country’s Arabs, which make up 20 percent of Israel’s population. Tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens, together with Jewish supporters, demonstrated against the law in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square over the weekend, a week after the Druze community held their own mass protest in the same square.
Now that the campaign is gaining momentum, the committee and its allies are getting to work. They plan to mobilize Arab communities, apply international pressure on Israel, and forge Jewish-Palestinian partnerships. That is, if they manage to overcome years of internal fragmentation.
What many Palestinian citizens of Israel can agree on is that the impact of the Jewish Nation-State Law is not solely symbolic. “It doesn’t only change our relationship with the state on the ideological and legal levels – the law has real ramifications,” said Raghad Jaraisy, an attorney who directs the Arab Minority Rights Unit at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). The law can determine whether Arabs can live in ethnically mixed neighborhoods, whether Arab cities can expand, and whether Arab citizens would be able to speak their native language freely in public.
Jaraisy added that the law is likely to embolden many Jewish Israelis to...Read More