Netanyahu sends Muslims, Druze Eid al-Adha greetings amid nation-state law spat

Netanyahu sends Muslims, Druze Eid al-Adha greetings amid nation-state law spat

‘In Israel we have freedom of worship for all,’ PM says, against backdrop of mass Druze-led protests over contentious legislation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening posted a video on social media blessing the Muslim and Druze communities as they began celebrating the Eid al-Adha festival.

“I would like to wish the Muslim and Druze an ‘Eid al-Adha mubarak,'” or blessed Eid al-Adha, the premier said in the Hebrew-language video, which has been published with Arabic and English subtitles.

“I’m proud for the fact that in Israel we have freedom of worship for all: Muslims, Druze, Christians, Baha’is, Jews — everyone. And I would like to wish you and your families a happy holiday. Bless you,” Netanyahu said.

The festive message came as the government was making efforts to mollify outraged minorities over the controversial Jewish nation-state law.

The nation-state law, passed by the Knesset on July 19 as one of the country’s Basic Laws, enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” for the first time, but critics say it undermines the Declaration of Independence’s commitment to equality for all its citizens. Its supporters say equality for all Israelis is enshrined in other existing legislation.

Members of Israel’s Druze community have expressed particular outrage at the law’s provisions, saying it renders them second-class citizens. Members of the Druze community — including three Druze members of Knesset — have already filed High Court petitions against the law and several Druze military officers have resigned from the IDF in protest of the law.

Some 50,000-100,000 people attended a Druze-led protest last month in Tel Aviv.

Druze protesters at a demonstration in Tel Aviv against the nation-state law, August 4, 2018. (Luke Tress / Times of Israel staff)

The Bedouin community has also protested the law, filing a separate court petition  demanding the wording of the law be changed to make it apply equally to all Israelis or else be abolished entirely.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of the patriarch Abraham, or Ibrahim in the Muslim tradition, to sacrifice his son and God’s intervention that stopped the slaughter.

According to the Muslim faith, Abraham’s almost-sacrificed son was Ishmael, while in Judaism, it is Isaac.

The holiday continues for the next four days, and falls every year during the Muslim month of Dhu al-Hijjah, when Muslims perform the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

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