Thank You to Our Druze Brothers

Dividing the state’s residents into 'good' and 'bad' was meant to crush the Arab minority’s culture and turn Zionism into a racist doctrine

Druze men visit Nabi Shuaib shrine during the annual pilgrimage near the small village of Kfar Zeitim, by the Sea of Galilee, northern Israel, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

“The enactment of the nation-state law was done hastily,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon admitted yesterday. “We were wrong and we need to fix it.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett, one of the sponsors who spearheaded the perverse legislation, tweeted that he “realized the law deeply hurts the Druze community’s feelings” and recommended finding a way to repair the rift with “our blood brothers.”

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This time MKs and ministers cannot complain against the High Court of Justice or the left for obstructing governance, or for lacking in patriotism. When they enact racist legislation, which undermines Israel’s basic values, they are wholly responsible. The only required step is not repairing, mending or patching up, but a total annulment of the law, which blatantly discriminates against some of Israel’s citizens.

The outcry to adapt the law so that it doesn’t harm the Druze, and perhaps also the Christian Arabs, the Circassians and the Bedouins serving in the army, and are thus included in the “good Arabs” classification, attests more than anything else to the undemocratic, un-Zionist worldview characterizing the rightist lawmakers. Their groundless fear for the state’s Jewish identity made them forget the meaning of the term “citizenship,” which doesn’t distinguish among people on the basis of religion, origin or gender.

Dividing the state’s residents into “good” and “bad” was meant to crush the Arab minority’s culture and turn Zionism, which stood for equal rights for all Israel’s residents, into a racist doctrine.

For seven decades Israel succeeded in living with its identity as a Zionist, democratic state, in which a Jewish majority lived beside a non-Jewish minority. The law even created a semblance of equal rights, even if in reality the Druze, Muslim and Christian minorities were discriminated against and deprived.

The Nation-State Law stipulates that from now on, even the illusion of equality poses a danger to Israel’s Jewish identity. The absurdity is that now even Jews, secular and religious, who strive for democracy and human rights, who still believe in enlightened Zionism and see the state as a joint, egalitarian framework for the majority and the minority – that is to say, most of the public – depend on the success of the minorities’ struggle against the law.

This is the government and Knesset’s responsibility, not that of the minorities, to restore for all Israel’s citizens the democracy they are losing. Without it not only the minorities will lose their affiliation to Israel, but the Jewish majority will become a stranger in its own country.

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