Editorial

Netanyahu's 'Compensation' Plan for the Druze Exposes the Nation-state Bluff

The Druze community is right to rise up against the nation-state law — not because they serve in the army, but because they are citizens with equal rights, not second-class citizens

Protesters holding up signs during a demonstration against the Jewish nation-state law, August 2018
Meged Gozani

If any doubts remained about the purpose of the nation-state law, the government has come to dispel them: The “plan” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to the Druze minority as compensation proves that the law infringes on the equality of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. The smoke screen the law’s supporters tried to put up, by saying that it does not affect the equality given to all citizens and minorities, dissipated at once. If that’s the case, then why offer “compensation” to the Druze?

The commitment to recognize the Druze as a “contributing minority” with rights deriving from this classification only underscores the fact that the true motivation behind the law was not to define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, but rather to remind the country’s non-Jewish minorities that they are here as subjects who do not have natural rights but only rights the state grants them at will, at its discretion.

The idea that only those who serve in the army are entitled to full citizenship and equality is fundamentally distorted. In accordance with a cabinet resolution, members of Israel’s Arab minority are not called on to serve in the military. Menachem Begin pointed this out in an address to the Knesset in 1962: “Some say that it is impossible for us to provide full equal rights to Arab citizens of the state because they do not fulfill full equal obligations. But this is a strange claim. True, we decided not to obligate Arab residents, as distinguished from the Druze, to perform military service. But we decided this of our own free will and I believe that the moral reason for it is valid. Should war break out, we would not want one Arab citizen to face the harsh human test that our own people had experienced for generations. ... We believe that in the Jewish state, there must be and will be equal rights for all its citizens, irrespective of religion, nation or origin.”

The Druze community is right to rise up against the nation-state law — not because they serve in the army, but because they are citizens with equal rights, and the law has sent them a message of alienation and second-class citizenship.

But if they take the offered compensation, they will be contributing with their own hands to injuring the Arab minority, which will be left out of the camp. The solution to the nation-state law lies not in compensation and an artificial “status upgrade,” but in its full revocation.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.