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Israeli Arabs protest on Facebook

Dana Regev
November 28, 2014

Israeli Arabs have been adding "second-class citizen" stamps to their profile pictures on Facebook to protest against the approval of a bill. If it is adopted, Israel will be declared a Jewish nation-state.

Screenshot des Facebookprofils von Sana Jamm
Image: Facebook

Hundreds of Israeli Arabs have added a "second-class citizen" stamp to their Facebook profile pictures to protest plans by the government to declare Israel a Jewish nation-state in a new law. The bill, if approved in its current form, would also mean that Arabic would be dropped as one of Israel's official languages meaning that it would become harder for people to get essential services in Arabic.

Conversation leads to protest

The protest by Israeli Arabs on Facebook started with a conversation between two friends: "We laughed about the current situation with the new law, that turns us officially to second-class citizens, and we decided to do something about it," Sana Jammalieh, a partner in a graphic design studio in Haifa, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

After changing her profile picture to the one with the "official" stamp, hundreds asked Jammalieh for help in replacing their own images too.

"It was a completely crazy. I couldn't even work in the studio, I had hundreds of requests on Facebook to create similar stamps. I sent pictures to more than two hundred people. We didn't expect this to happen," she told Ha'aretz.

The new law proposal quotes the 1948 declaration of Independence directly. But while the original document says that Israel "will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex," the bill uses different wording, so that it doesn't include the term "equality." The original phrasing has been replaced by a vague one which says that the state will "maintain the personal rights of its citizens under the law."

"Celebrating my old (but official) state: Second Class Citizen!" Jammalieh wrote on her Facebook profile.

"I am laughing because now it turned into something official," says Hanin Majadli, a student at Tel Aviv University, who also changed her profile picture. "We've never been true citizens, so what's new?" she told Haaretz. "So thank you, at least now you say it out loud."

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