The Israeli government recently decided to take further steps towards passing the “Nation State Bill”, a law that will deeply harm the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens, who constitute 20% of the population. Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly stated his desire to “fast track” the bill, through an independent legislative path. With this law, right-wing lawmakers intend to both annul the status of Arabic as an official state language, and deny the rights of Arabs to own property in certain localities around the country, effectively transforming them into second-class citizens. Apparently, the current Israeli government has forgotten that its primary responsibility should be to protect the rights of minorities, not those of the majority.
This bill is yet another effort to deny what all of us already know, and which the government should by now acknowledge: Israel is home to both Jews and Arabs, each group with its own identity and language, and each of which should be entitled, in law and practical status, to equality. Anyone who believes in and supports equality and democracy in Israel should join in the struggle to prevent this dangerous bill from passing. The Nation State Bill is more than just a statement; it has the potential to do serious and permanent harm, by legitimizing official discrimination against Arab citizens.
The Nation State Bill will hurt all of us – Arabs and Jews alike – by denying basic rights to Arab citizens and communities and poisoning society overall through the nullification of basic principles and practices of equality. Steps like these, left unchecked, will serve to further extinguish the hopes of Arab and Jewish citizens, who envision living together in Israel as a shared society. We cannot and will not stay silent on this law.