Bedouin Sue State to Disbar Nationality Law

A Bedouin walks in the Negev Desert near the village of al-Sira. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

After the Druze community agreed to withdraw a lawsuit against the Nationality Law after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Druze leaders on passing legislation to enhance the standing of Druze Israelis, it was the turn of Bedouins to threaten a High Court petition against the law. The lawsuit, filed by two IDF veterans, Hassan al-Hayb and Abu al-Gian, demands that the law be canceled, on the grounds that it discriminates against minority groups, including Bedouin.

The law, claims the petition, violates several Basic Laws on individual rights, and also opposes the status quo on the standing of the Bedouin community that has been in force since Israel’s independence in 1948. It also demands that the law be suspended altogether until the petition is heard and adjudicated – and that the state prove why it should not adjust the law to provide equal rights to all Israelis.

Among the tenets of the law are that Israel is the “national home” of the Jewish people; that Israel is obligated to preserve Jewish culture and tradition; that the Jewish calendar be used whenever possible to conduct state business; that Jewish law be the “source of inspiration” for legislation by the Knesset and decisions by the courts; that Jews be given the opportunity to immigrate to Israel and receive citizenship; that Hebrew be recognized as the primary official language of the country; and that the state encourage Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.

Al-Hayb said in the petition that three of his brothers had been killed in battle serving the state, and that he planned to fight against the law, even though he is chairperson of the Likud chapter in his home town of Beit Natofa – and the law was passed by a Likud government. “I hereby request that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is a friend of mine, come and discuss this law with us, the families who have lost brothers and sons in Israel’s wars. We have served the state since its early days, even before there was a flag and before the fate of Israel’s bid for independence was known. We have stood together with our Jewish brothers. Let the Prime Minister come and explain to the families of the 200 members of our community who died in battle why he has changed his ways and now supports this,” he added.

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