After the Nation-State Law was passed by a majority vote of the Knesset, it has come under fire from the usual suspects, the Palestinians, the Western pro-Palestinian liberal elite, and the left-wing in Israel. But, perhaps more worrying is that it has also stirred opposition within Israel from unexpected sources, most notably the Druze.
First Brig. Gen. Amal Assad, a strong Druze supporter of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, contacted him to express Druze reservations about the Law. Then Bennett wrote a letter to PM Netanyahu pointing out the Druze concerns. In this letter he referred to the Druze as “our brothers.” Indeed the Druze, a small religious community in Israel have been very loyal to the State of Israel, serving faithfully in the IDF and indeed dying side-by-side with Jewish soldiers. Then Netanyahu arranged a meeting with Druze leadership, including their spiritual leader Sheik Mowfat Tarif. This meeting ended in recriminations, so that there were two further meetings. Now, with Bennett’s help further negotiations are underway to come up with a compromise that could amend the law to satisfy the Druze and other minorities.
The Druze are considered a heretical sect of Islam, that developed in Egypt in the 13th century. They believe that Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, is another prophet of God, who has been over-looked by others. They were persecuted in Egypt and fled along the coast to the mountains of Lebanon where they took refuge in the region called Jebel Druze. Their minority status means that they are loyal to any country that protects them. So far they have been loyal to Lebanon, Syria and Israel. They also cultivate a strong military tradition.
In order to put pressure on Netanyahu to amend the law, a large demonstration was held last Sat night in Tel Aviv with tens of thousands of Druze and Labor Party supporters, who oppose the Nation-State Law. Although I understand the Druze concerns, the fact is that this Law is an addition to the Basic Laws of Israel, but changes nothing in terms of treatment of minorities. The Druze want to be acknowledged as part of the State that we call Israel alongside the Jews. But, the fact is that in a democracy, the majority rule, and this Nation-State law is what the majority of Jews want. Once the Druze critics start to bandy around terms like “apartheid State” which they know very well is untrue and defamatory, then the two sides will have to part ways.