With extremists such as Avigdor Lieberman on the rise in Israeli politics, the Arabs who make up about one-fifth of the country’s population are newly vulnerable.
Feeling their power, Israel’s conservative parliamentarians are drafting laws that appear to target Arab citizens, causing both allies and civil libertarians to cringe. One measure would create a loyalty oath, while another would punish any “call to negate Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state” with a year in jail.
MK Haim Oron (Meretz) attacked the proposal, saying “this insane government, what exactly are you doing? Creating a thought police? Have you run off the rails?”
Oron said that even though he disagrees with those who do not support Israel’s identity as a Jewish, democratic state, there is no reason to make it a criminal issue.
Civil rights activists have cautioned that this and other legislation threatens to curb the rights of Arab citizens.
Its approval on a preliminary reading showed how Israeli support for laws seen as targetting Israeli Arabs has grown since a right-wing government was sworn in after a February election.