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Druze army vets campaign against Israel’s Jewish state law

09 August 2018

Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a petition against the new Jewish Nation-State Basic Law at the Israeli High Court.

"For the Druze public, which gives of its blood and its sons for the State of Israel, the nation-state law is spitting in our face", the petitioners said.

Finally, on the issue of Diaspora Jewry, she notes that the law explicitly mentions that "the state will act within the Diaspora to strengthen the affinity between the state and members of the Jewish people" and says that the language chosen to refer to activities in the Diaspora alone was to "avoid an undemocratic situation in which a constitutional "right" would effectively bind the Israeli Government to make decisions based on how they would be perceived overseas".

Asher Westropp-Evans  i24NEWS
Druze army vets campaign against Israel’s Jewish state law

Other than in Israel, "there is no constitution in the world today containing a clause that determines that the state belongs to one ethnic group or that a given state is exclusive to a certain ethnic group", said Tuesday's petition, submitted by the Israeli human rights group Adalah on behalf of the High Follow-Up Commitee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors and the Arab bloc in the Knesset. Thus to argue that the nation-state law is undemocratic because it doesn't mention equality or minority rights is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is undemocratic because Articles I and II confer broad powers on the legislature and executive without mentioning the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Several Basic Laws, including those on the Knesset, the government, and the judiciary, detail the mechanisms of Israeli democracy and enshrine fundamental democratic principles like free elections and judicial independence. Capt. Amir Jamal, one of the Druze officers who resigned, said in an open letter to Netanyahu on his Facebook page Sunday that has now been removed, the Jerusalem Post reported.

In a almost 60-page petition, the petitioners maintain that the Israeli Supreme Court must annul the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law as it is racist legislation that contradicts all norms of global law.

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The law, passed by parliament last month, defines Israel as the Jewish nation-state and downgrades the Arabic language to a "special status".

Protesters wave Israeli and Druze flags at a demonstration in Tel Aviv against the nation-state law, on August 4, 2018.

It is also argued that, in violation of the United Nations charter, the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law negates the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

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The legislation was passed as a so-called basic law, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel's legal system and are more hard to repeal than regular laws. What it has is a series of Basic Laws to which the Supreme Court unilaterally accorded constitutional status. The law has stirred calls for that to end.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to placate the Druze with a package of benefits, but efforts to negotiate it have stalled.

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Druze army vets campaign against Israel’s Jewish state law