Hundreds of people gather in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem to protest the proposed “Jewish state bill.”

Amid angry shouts of “Democracy Now!” and “Equality!” protesters argued that the legislation will further alienate Arabs by stripping them of basic rights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial proposed draft, which would legally define Israel as the nation-state of the Jews, has been met with vehement opposition not only by the Arab world and Israelis alike, but by members of his own coalition.

A recent Knesset vote to approve the law was postponed due to significant infighting among coalition members, including outspoken critics such as Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

“I’m here because November 29th was the day the UN recognized Israel as a Jewish and Arab state,” said 18-year-old Eliran Bykhovsky. “The Nationality Law proposed by the extreme right in Israel is supposed to erase the civil national rights of Arabs and maintain them only for Israelis.”

“For 66 years we were democratic enough and Jewish enough to have Arabs in Parliament and have legislation that Arabs can live in any part of Israel they like, and this law will take it away,” he continued. “We’ve survived quite well without this useless law.”

Hila, a retired nurse who requested her last name not be published, expressed visceral outrage over what she deemed to be the legislation’s existential threat to the country.

“I want Bibi [Netanyahu] to get out of here – out of Israel, out of the government!” she said. “He’s the wrong person to be the leader because he’s taking us to dark times which is very bad for the country.”

Hila added that she believes the prime minister’s motivation to pass the bill is self serving.

“He doesn’t care about the people – he cares about his own survival,” she said. “The worse thing that he has put into the Israeli mind is that there is no partner for negotiations, which is wrong because there is: Abbas. He wants to make an agreement, but we are not a partner for him.”

Moreover, she said such legislation is teaching young Israelis to hate and become intolerant.

“There is a young generation in Israel that is learning how to hate and become violent – where human rights mean nothing to them,” she continued. “Not just for Arabs, but for refugees as well.”

Prof. Menacham Zur, a retired composer with the Academy of Music, described the proposed law as “disgusting” and counterproductive.

“You do not make a law unless you want to change something to improve it,” he said. “Our Basic Laws have functioned very well so far, and being Jewish and democratic is ingrained into our declaration. Any attempt to change it means you want to worsen it because there’s no way to improve it.”

Zur continued: “Even people from Likud are against it.”

Zvi Hillman, former deputy director of the Israel Museum, said the law is antithetical to former prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s vision for the country.

“When Ben-Gurion decided to have the declaration of Independence he said there was an Arab minority and that everything will be equal in the nation of Israel,” he said. “What [Netanyahu] is doing today is outrageous because he’s separating the two ideas that have always been together: Democracy and the Jewishness of the country.”

According to Hillman’s wife, Nechama, the result of such a law will dually cater to extremists and undermine the democratic principles of Israel. “It’s just catering to Arab and Jewish extremists on both sides, and that’s a very dangerous place to go,” she said. “A lot of extreme right-wing Jews have this fantasy that we are so powerful – that we do not have to take into consideration the people living around us. And I don’t think we’re so powerful.”

Conversely, Nechama added that more democratic and inclusive overtures must be made to Arab residents to quell growing unrest, defined by ongoing terrorist attacks and rioting.

“We have to give [Arabs] a proper place in society; to make them happy to be citizens here,” she said. “And not push them into the hands of the extremists.”