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Arab Israelis split over campaign against Nationality Law

Following a three-week delay, the Arab-Israeli leadership this week joined the protest against the Nationality Law, appealing to the Supreme Court to overturn it and organizing a large demonstration.
Israelis from the Druze minority together with others take part in a rally to protest against Jewish nation-state law in Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, August 4, 2018. REUTERS/Corinna Kern - RC1B986AEC80

Israel’s Knesset adopted July 19 the controversial Nationality Law, anchoring the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Now, Arab Israelis are divided over the nature of the protest they should mount against the law. Opinions range from exerting pressure on the legislature to amend the law by holding demonstrations and strikes and petitioning the Supreme Court to taking advantage of the bill to show up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government in front of the world.

Activists in the Arab-Jewish Hadash party told Al-Monitor that the Arab Knesset members and senior community figures such as mayors and members of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel have “fallen asleep on the job.” Although the Arabs are not obliged to serve in the military — unlike the Jews — they pay taxes like other Israelis but get fewer services and budgets from the state, the activists argue. Some think the Arab communities should launch an indefinite general strike, demonstrate and block roads to display their civic power. This way, they would expose Israel’s shame to the world.

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