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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. 

Tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters protest in Rabin Sqaure against the Jewish Nation-State Law, August 12, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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/Activestills.org)

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.

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.

Palestinian citizens take part in a protest against the Jewish Nation-State Law, central Tel Aviv, August 12, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian citizens take part in a protest against the Jewish Nation-State Law, central Tel Aviv, August 12, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“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.”

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

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/Activestills.org)

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.”

Tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters protest in Rabin Sqaure against the Jewish Nation-State Law, August 12, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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/Activestills.org)

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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    1. Unimpressed realist

      Palestinian flags flying with Israeli flags, wonders never cease. It would be the people wouldn’t it, in the end, that just disregard those in ‘power’ and break down the barriers themselves? Better late than never, but I wonder if the hardliners realize that this is probably the only way forward. Natanyahu was never going to allow Palestinians their own state, so what did he expect would happen?

      In my opinion, this is the best and only solution. The land was never with a people much less no people, it had peoples. Maybe it’s time for a federation of peoples in the Holy Land? That would work out for everybody.

      As for the likes of Natanayhu, he should answer for his crimes as well as Likud along with the PA etc who all invest in conflict to remain in power anyway. The extremists can leave and go live on man made islands to live out their delusions, while they rest of all. Finally get a chance to breathe.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “Palestinian flags flying with Israeli flags…”

        This is so true. Netanyahu, Trumps’ Mini-Me in divisiveness and demagoguery, wants everyone to be shocked, shocked!, and very very afraid, that people in the crowd were waving Palestinian alongside Israeli flags. “Proof we need the nations state law” is his game. But what after all did he and his minions expect? He was never going to allow a Palestinian state. He has given Palestinians inside Israel absolutely no outlet (in the form of a neighboring Palestinian state) for their own national yearnings or given them any reason whatsoever to look on the Israeli flag as their own (the nation state law crams down their throats that the Israeli flag is not really their flag and they better get used to it). He has created a de facto, on-the-ground, unitary but bi-national state, but with one flag only given the right to show its face? The two flags flying together like a field mixed with two different flowers is the apt symbol of the bi-national one-state reality Netanyahu has worked tirelessly to promote but does not want people to recognize for what it actually is. He wants the charade to continue but reality has a way of flying its flag(s).

        P.S.: In the light of Einat Levi’s article on Morocco on the 10th of August, Eval Ilouz’s comments about Morocco are most interesting.

        Reply to Comment
        • Unimpressed realist

          The problem with the likes of Natanyahu, they legit believe that Jews themselves are better off as exceptional xenophobes in love with his own made up myth; in the one place on earth where many people have lived for just as long as Jews have. When you take into account ancient and old Palestine, probably 4000 years right there of history; there were always many peoples. Not just one or two.

          They managed to live together all that time, they can do it again. That’s what really scares him. Because under such a reality, he isn’t in power and the IDF in particular become irrelevant.

          Natanyahu is a dinosaur out of his time, teaching those under him his antiquated world view, which is doing more harm all on its own. He and his religiously militant party, are holding everyone hostage. He’s running everything on state of emergency law enabling the Military to govern and forces everyone into conscription. Making the state a military junta but with civilian courts for ‘Jews only’. The guy is everything that is wrong with the region.

          Then he passes this legislation and has a meltdown when people start calling for a Palestinian-Israeli state? That’s the sanest idea that they have ever come up with. What is wrong with a Palestinian-Israeli state? A flag that represents everyone and an anthem that all can sing and relate to etc?

          Its not as if Israeli Jews have to let go of the blue and white or Palestinians their Kaffye and colors, its like how states have their own flags under the United States flag. The state itself would simply go through a unification to blend them both into one. Trust Natanayhu to find that outrageous and blatantly expose his hostility towards a real democracy.

          All in all, its not as if Jews suddenly stop having a history/heritage there, or no longer something to be proud of either. Its just the rest of the peoples who also live there beside them will be acknowledged, represented, and their heritages and histories taken pride in as well.

          Its so obvious this is the best thing for everyone, and he would be the one to reject it. He and Abbas and Hamas no doubt at all. They like this conflict, that’s all their is to it. It keeps everyone of them rich, elite and in power. Its why they can sit at a table and laugh at each others jokes. Because it’s all a joke to them.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Thank you for this refreshing blast of common sense. All true. But although Netanyahu, Abbas and the Hamas leadership are all of them boxed in by their priorities of personally staying in power and their general corruptness, it is Netanyahu’s Israel that is the occupying power and has all the power to change things and make them work, or not. It has all the power. But the last thing Netanyahu’s Israel wants is to make things work. Bibi secretly loves Hamas. The next-to-the-last thing he wants is a unified Palestinian leadership and the last thing he wants is a unified competent, peace-seeking, moderate Palestinian leadership.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Ben, there is no such thing as a competent, peace-seeking, moderate Palestinian leadership.
            Why ?
            1. “Fakestinyans” do not exist and never will.
            2. Peace and moderation cannot co-exist in Jordanian society, whioch runs according to Sharia Law, including:
            beheading of Gays
            honor killing
            polygamy
            dictatorship
            Jizza tax for Dhimmis
            No Jews allowed.

            Reply to Comment