Israeli Minister Admits Nation-state Law Marginalizes 'Druze Brothers'

'These are our blood brothers,' Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted but said he still stands behind his decision to support the controversial legislation

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a reception hosted by the Orthodox Union in Jerusalem ahead of the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018
\ AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

Education Minister Naftali Bennett admitted on Wednesday to belatedly realizing that the nation-state law, which he voted for, hurt the feelings of members of Israel's Druze community.

"That is of course not the Israeli government's intention," Bennett tweeted. "These are our blood brothers, who stand shoulder to shoulder with us in the battlefield and who have entered into a life covenant with us. We, the government of Israel, have the responsibility of finding a way to repair the rift."

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After his tweeted clarification provoked intense criticism on social media, Bennett posted another tweet, writing lest it be in doubt, that the Nation-State law is crucial and will not be yanked.

"To my friends on the left, the Nation-State law became crucial because of the High Court, in a series of rulings, gradually voided the Jewish facet of meaning," the minister tweeted, adding that the court had strengthened "democracy" but weakened "Jewish".

"A specific flaw arises regarding our Druze brothers and that must be amended," he continued.

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One of the three Knesset members to sue in the High Court of Justice against the law this Sunday was Knesset member Salah Sa'ad of the Zionist Union, who tweeted back to Bennett that he had created the rift with his own two hands: "The law passed because of you and your friends," Sa'ad tweeted. The other two were Akram Hasson of Kulanu and Hamad Amar of Yisrael Beiteinu.

The petitioners hope the court will annul the law or rule out parts of it on the grounds of impairment of basic rights, including the right to equality. It also states that minorities have no status. It essentially exiles the Druze and others despite their service and loyalty to the state, the three wrote.

For years the Nation-State Law, including in more extreme forms than today's, had been promoted by Ayelet Shaked, a member of Bennett's party and now justice minister. Bennett supported it in the vote last week, though even then the Druze Knesset members had warned about the harm to their communities and to other minorities.