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90,000 Druze protest against Israel's nation state law in Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV’S Rabin Square rang to chants of “We want equality!” from 90,000 protesters last night at a Druze-led demonstration against the Israeli government’s apartheid nation state law.

Hundreds of brightly coloured Druze flags, which are rarely seen outside the community, fluttered in the square alongside the national banner. City Hall was also lit up in Druze colours.

Brigadier General Amal Assad, the most senior military commander of Israel’s Druze community, who is retired and on reserve, told the crowd: “I call for the government to abolish this law.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed in a face-to-face meeting to persuade Brig-Gen Assad and other Druze leaders to cancel the rally; the general accused him of turning Israel into an apartheid state.

“We came here to tell the entire Israeli nation, with all of the Israeli people, that this country is for all of us,” the general declared.

“We were born here, we will die here, we love this country, we have defended it and we will continue to live here together – Jews, Arabs, Druze, Circassians, Bedouins, as equal brothers. We are all Israelis.”

Protests were also held in many Arab towns, including Sakhnin, Majd el-Kurum, Baka, Tira, Rahat, Jaljulya, Kufr Kana and Wadi Ara, where Jews and Arabs protested together, sponsored by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s house in Haifa yesterday in an event organised by the Communist Party and its Hadash electoral front.

Joint List Knesset member Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) said Mr Kahlon and his Kulanu MPs had voted for a racist Bill that marks a fifth of the population as inferior and legitimises discrimination. She said he could not expect to receive Arab votes in the next election.

“We must remember that he and his party stood shoulder to shoulder with the extreme right to remove us from the circle of equal citizens,” she said. “We will not be citizens only on election day. Kahlon, we will judge you and your hypocrisy,” she declared.

Another mass demonstration will be held at Rabin Square next Saturday.

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