While MKs from the coalition have submitted a bill seeking to redefine Israel as a state for Jews, addressing the religious aspect of identity instead of the nationalistic, Arab MKs are busy trying to rewrite the nation’s national anthem, the Hatikvah.
The special Knesset session was attended by many Arab representatives from Galil area communities, Israeli Arabs who feel alien to the Jewish aspirations for a homeland expressed in the national anthem.
MK (Hadash) Afou Agbaria feels the national anthem must be meaningful to all of the nation’s citizens, not just the Jews and to speak of the “Hope of 2,000 years’ and “The land of Zion and Jerusalem” does not speak to Israeli Arabs and others.
One example of the bizarre situation may be the searing in ceremony for Israel’s first Arab justice to the nation’s Supreme Court, last year. Justice Salim Jubran stood when the national anthem was sung, but he did not recite the words.
Arab MKs point out that the 20% of the nation’s citizens are Arabs and there are other non-Jews as well. They feel racism against Arabs is on the rise despite the fact that Arabic is an official state language.
Agbaria cited another example, the fact that Jews can become citizens under the Law of Return while anyone without a Jewish grandparent cannot. He explains that if an Arab citizen of the state marries a citizen of a PA (Palestinian Authority) autonomous area, the spouse does not receive Israeli citizenship automatically. He added on the average an Arab worker earns 40% less than his Jewish counterpart, highlighting the widespread and ongoing discrimination against Arabs in Israel.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)