Druze minister gets death threats over Jewish state law, amid community protest
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Druze minister gets death threats over Jewish state law, amid community protest

Shin Bet considers increasing security detail of Likud minister after he receives online and physical harassment over his vote in favor of controversial legislation

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara speaks at a press conference about the Communications Ministry's move to shut down the Jerusalem office of Al Jazeera on August 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara speaks at a press conference about the Communications Ministry's move to shut down the Jerusalem office of Al Jazeera on August 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara has been warned by state security services of death threats made against him by members of the Druze community following his vote in favor of the controversial Jewish nation-state law last week.

Following the threats, the unit of the Shin Ben security agency responsible for the safety of government ministers is considering increasing Kara’s security detail, Hadashot news reported Sunday night.

Kara, Israel’s second ever Druze minister, confirmed that he had received both online and physical harassment from Druze activists including against his wife and son.

He said that he planned to file a police complaint Monday.

On Sunday, Israeli Druze leaders, including three Knesset members, petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Jewish nation-state legislation, saying it was an “extreme” act that discriminated against the country’s minorities.

The lawmakers came from across the political spectrum — from the coalition, MK Hamed Amar of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party and MK Akram Hasson of the centrist Kulanu party, and from the opposition, MK Salah Sa’ad of the Labor party, currently represented in the Knesset by the center-left Zionist Union.

All three served in Israel’s security forces and have been active in Zionist organizations.

The law, passed by the Knesset in a 62-55 vote early Thursday, enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest, and defines Arabic as a language bearing a “special” status in the state, effectively a downgrade from its de facto status as a second official language in state bodies.

Kara, as a Likud minister, voted in favor of the legislation.

“We have joined forces across across party lines because this is an extremist move by the government against Arabic speakers, and continues the discrimination against Druze settlements and minorities, which is now anchored in a Basic Law,” Sa’ad told the Ynet news site.

“For the Druze public, which gives of its blood and its sons for the State of Israel, the nation-state law is spitting in our face.”

Co-petitioners who have also lent their names to the appeal include the mayors of major Druze towns, including Peki’in, Yarka, Bet Jan and Hurfeish.

It was not clear on what grounds the court could rule against the law.

Arab citizens account for some 21 percent of Israel’s more than 8.8 million population and have long complained of discrimination.

Critics in Israel and abroad, including Diaspora Jews, have fiercely derided the legislation as discriminatory and unnecessary.

Members of the government praised the passage of the law on Thursday morning, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “a pivotal moment in the annals of Zionism and the State of Israel.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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