What an amazing weekend we’ve had. Politicians from the entire spectrum — from the far left to the far right — remember the Druze all of a sudden and are embracing any Druze person who makes them look good. How convenient, how easy.
Where were you all these years when the Druze were suffering from a housing shortage in their communities, when Druze soldiers had difficulty finding jobs following their military service? Now, after you ignored them and humiliated them with the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, a racist and crazy piece of legislation that you negligently passed, you hurriedly run around dispensing fake hugs and empathy, talk about a “blood pact” and call the Druze “our brothers”? That’s not leadership. It’s cheap politics.
“You need to be smart when you pass laws,” says Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but just after the passage of the nation-state law, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon suddenly realized that the new law needs to be changed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that he will reexamine it.
Were you really unaware of what you were doing, I would ask? Did you really fail to understand that the law is abusive to a group that for many, many years has simply been contributing to the state, an ethnic group that has lost over 400 of its finest sons in defense of the country? Now you’re finding the missing money to bribe and silence the Druze, as you usually do to ultra-Orthodox Jews?
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So here’s what can and should be done:
1. A Druze district that will encompass all of the Druze villages and their land should be established immediately. The authority to issue master plans, building permits and construction plans would be based in the district itself, so that it isn’t swallowed up in subcommittees dispersed among various districts that relate only to geography rather than reflecting the group’s uniqueness and tradition, which should also be reflected in the actual plans for the Druze community.
2. Yarka, the largest Druze village, should be accorded the status of a city immediately.
3. Neighborhoods should be built for young Druze men who have served in the army. They would be given the opportunity to live in the neighborhoods for several years until they start a family and build their own homes in the Druze tradition.
4. An “affirmative action” program should be developed immediately for the integration of Druze veterans of the army and from other security services. It is intolerable that population groups that don’t serve in the Israel Defense Forces and don’t serve the state benefit from affirmative action while an entire society that serves the state and fights to defend it is suffering from discrimination.
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We all should express gratitude to the Druze — military commanders and religious leaders from the Druze community — who were the first to protest and expose the government’s deceit.
At the same time, everyone must understand that the shameful nation-state law also inflicts harm upon members of the Circassian community, who serve in the army — as well as the Bedouin, many of whom have served and are serving in the military. And that’s in addition to members of the Israeli Arab community as a whole, the vast majority of whom have tied their fate to ours and want to live with us as citizens with equal rights.
Contrary to halting explanations on the nation-state law, it differs fundamentally from two other basic laws — which have constitutional status — the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty and the Basic Law on the Freedom of Occupation, in that it does not apply equally to all the citizens of the country, instead discriminating among them. Therefore it must cease to exist, and as quickly as possible.
The Druze deserve more. We all deserve more. We must no longer remain silent. We should all join the Druze struggle and repeal the nation-state law.
Amiram Levin is a retired major general and a member of the Labor Party.