Shortly after the Israeli cabinet of Benjamin Netanyahu passed a bill on Sunday requiring all non-Jewish citizens to pledge allegiance to Israel not only as a state but as a “Jewish and democratic state”, hundreds of Israeli intellectuals and artists held a protest rally in Tel Aviv to challenge the new bill.Speaking to the rally, Professor Yaron Ezrachi said that “Israel is deteriorating to the level of a fascist state and that “the children of Israel will either leave the country, be imprisoned or just fight in the streets.’
Professor Gabi Solomon stated that with this new bill, “Israel is burying its declaration of independence”, and ironically added that “the Arabs will stab us in the back. The reason they did not do so since Israel’s establishment 62 years ago is irrelevant.’
The new bill passed by 22 to 8. It still needs to be approved by the Knesset in which the right wing Likud party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, enjoys a vast majority.
The ministers who voted against the bill are Ehud Barak and all of the ministers of his Labor Party, and Likud party ministers, Dan Meridor, Michael Etan and Beni Begen.
Head of the National Democratic Assembly, Arab member of the Knesset Dr. Jamal Zahalka, called for an international campaign to protect the Arabs and Palestinians in Israel from what he called “Israeli racism”.
He said that such a campaign is needed to protect Palestinians amidst Israel’s escalating attacks and violations against their legitimate rights.
Dr. Zahalka said that the fact that a vast majority in the Israeli government approved this bill means that “there is a fascist and racist majority in this government, and a similar majority in the Knesset”.
“This law means that the indigenous Arabs in this country will become hostages to the definition of the Jewish state”, Zahalka said. ‘The worst of all is that they want this Jewish state to be a source of humiliation to every Arab and Palestinian, especially those who are seeking family reunification in order to be able to live with their spouses and children”.
Prior to the meeting and the vote, Israeli Social Affairs Minister, Yitzhak Hertzog, stated that what is happening now in Israel threatens its democratic nature”, and added that there are some “fascist elements emerging in the Israeli society,’ the Arabs48 news website reported.
Israeli Justice Minister, Ya’akov Ne’eman, stated during the voting session that this bill should also oblige Jewish immigrants to the country to take the same oath, but his proposal was not adopted.
Earlier on Sunday, Israeli Minister of Minorities, Avishay Braverman, told the Israeli paper, Haaretz, that this bill does not benefit Israel, carries a problematic message towards the minorities, and shows Israel as an evil state.