Thousands protest in Tel Aviv against Nation State Law

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Tens of thousands are protesting in Tel Aviv against "nation-state" law that prioritized Jewish values in Israel and has been criticized as discriminating sparking local and global condemnation.

"Despite our unlimited loyalty to the state, the state doesn't consider us equals", Israeli Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafak Tarif said in a speech.

The demonstrators were urged to lower party banners and to wave Israeli and Druze flags only.

Druze leaders say the nation-state law makes them feel like second-class citizens because it doesn't mention equality or minority rights. The legislation, passed by the Knesset in July, downgrades Arab language status and limits the right to self-determination to Jews.

"Therefore, we will establish today a special ministerial committee that will advance this relationship and this commitment, and at the same time will recognize those who serve in the IDF and the security services from all religions and all communities".

"He had no intention of listening us, the officers who have a position contradictory to his own", Brig.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended a law which has outraged Israel's Druze minority, saying it would help prevent Palestinians and illegal migrants from seeking Israeli citizenship.

Non-Jewish minorities are outraged, including the Druze minority.

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Supporters of the law say it's not different from what is written in Israeli constitution and refers to the symbols of the country only.

"All our lives we took pride in an enlightened, democratic, and free state of Israel with the freedom and dignity of man as a supreme value".

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters also demonstrated against the nation-state law in front of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's house in Haifa, the Jerusalem Post said. They support the state of Israel, are active in parliament and, crucially, serve in the Israeli army.

In Israel they number around 120,000 - less than two percent of citizens.

Dozens of protesters erected a huge sign blaring the words "Crime Minister" and bearing an image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu abruptly ended a meeting with Druze officials this week and lawmaker Avi Dichter, a co-sponsor of the law, was heckled by Druze in attendance at another.

The Druze activist said the law would only harm "the heart of Israeli society, "those people who perceive themselves as part of the Israeli society...."

"Nobody has harmed - and nobody intends to harm - these individual rights but without the Nation-State Law it will be impossible to ensure for (future) generations the future of Israel as a Jewish national state".

In addition, recognition of the contribution made by all minorities and communities that participate in the nation's defense would be written into the country's Basic Laws.

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