Israeli Arabs threaten violence over ‘loyalty’ bills

Sunday, May 31, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

A body representing Israel’s Arab population on Saturday said it would view as a declaration of war the passing of a bill prohibiting citizens from officially marking Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee described as “racist” a bill approved last week by the cabinet that would outlaw “Nakba Day” - the traditional Arab day of mourning over the “catastrophe” of Israel’s rebirth.

The committee also took issue with two other bills, one of which would prohibit the propagation of material denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, and the other requiring a declaration of loyalty from all of Israel’s citizens.

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee said the bills would deny Arabs the ability to fight for “equal rights.”

In the letter, Israel’s Arab leadership reiterated its refusal to identify with the state, and its continued connection to a narrative that negates Israel’s existence.

While Israeli Arabs have far greater freedoms that the citizens of most Arab nations, they regularly complain about being discriminated against. Israelis often counter that it is natural to be put off by a sector of society that wishes and acts for the nation’s demise.

All three bills are expected to be rejected by the Knesset plenum.

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