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August 11, 2018 2:52 pm

Israeli Arabs Gather in Tel Aviv to Protest ‘Nation-State’ Law, Some Fly Palestinian Flag

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Arabs and their supporters take part in a rally to protest against the Jewish ‘nation-state’ law in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Aug. 11, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

Thousands of demonstrators led by Israel’s Arab community gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to protest the new “nation-state” law, marching from Rabin Square to the Tel Aviv Museum.

Both Jews and Arabs attended the rally, though the predominant presence was Arab and many demonstrators were seen waving Palestinian flags. The only Zionist political party to be represented at the protest was the far-left Meretz. The major opposition parties — Zionist Union and Yesh Atid — did not send representatives.

This was in contrast to last week’s demonstration against the “nation-state” law led by Israel’s Druze community in which many mainstream political parties took part.

Yediot Ahronot reported that at Saturday’s demonstration, Tayibe Mayor Sha’a Mansour Massarwa told the crowd, “We are gathered here to protest against the racist law that says this country has two classes of human beings. Not for nothing are all the minorities gathered here as one — Muslims, Druze, Christians, and Circassians — in order to say, we do not accept this discrimination. This law is very, very dangerous. It is a basic law, from which will be made many other laws.”

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Michal Rozen of Meretz stated, “We will not bow to the divide and conquer policies of the Netanyahu government. Anyone who thinks the government can bring down one community today and will not bring down another group tomorrow is badly mistaken. It sorrows me that there are political elements who decided to avoid this demonstration. It is impossible on the one hand to oppose the ‘nation-state’ law and talk about equality for all, and on the other hand to refuse to express solidarity with Israeli Arabs.”

Before the demonstration, MK Ayman Odeh, head of Israel’s main Arab party, the Joint List, used particularly harsh rhetoric, saying, “Tens of thousands of Arabs and Jews are going in droves in buses to Tel Aviv, because today we are determined to send a clear message — a democratic state must be for all citizens. There is no statement more important than this against the apartheid ‘nation-state’ law and there is no answer more appropriate to the inciting government than the masses of people who are taking to the streets in protest.”

MK Ahmed Tibi, also of the Joint List, said, “The demonstration tonight is one scream from many voices,” and revealed that his party was looking to take the protest international, stating that the Joint List was also holding tours and meetings in Europe and the UN.

According to Hebrew news site Walla, Science Minister Ofir Akunis, of the ruling Likud Party, said of the rally, in particular the flying of Palestinian flags, “If anyone still had any doubt why we definitely need the ‘nation-state’ law, the pictures from this evening in Tel Aviv are clear and unequivocal proof that Israel needs the ‘nation-state’ law.”

Though demonstrators were asked not to fly flags, many waved both the Palestinian and Israeli flags, with some shouting, “Jerusalem is Arab” and, “With blood and spirit we will redeem Palestine.”

The protest’s organizers asserted that over 20,000 people attended the rally, though this has not been confirmed.

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