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Daniel Gordis

Israeli Arabs and Jews Drive Past Another Turning Point

An opportunity to come together to protest the controversial nation-state law dissolves into ugly Palestinian chants.

Wrong flags for the occasion.

Wrong flags for the occasion.

Photographer: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

“The Arabs,” Abba Eban, the eloquent Israeli diplomat, said almost half a century ago, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The pithy line was classic Eban — slightly funny, obviously memorable and, sadly, true. The tendency to which Eban pointed was once again on display this month when thousands of Israeli Arabs, joined by many Jews, gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s recently passed “Jewish nation-state law.”

The law, which asserts that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — not a new idea, as the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Israel’s Declaration of Independence and other Israeli laws made that claim decades ago — has infuriated groups of all sorts for gratuitous additions, which many find dismissive.