Israeli Loyalty Oath Comes Under Fire

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A proposed loyalty oath requiring all new citizens of Israel to pledge allegiance to a "Jewish and democratic" state has drawn charges of racism.

Israel's cabinet passed the declaration of loyalty bill on Sunday. 

Statements detailing the proposal claim that "Israel lacks a clear and defined immigration policy. The purpose of the proposal is to set an immigration policy in Israel which will ensure the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."
 
"Many countries around the world, including the United States, require new citizens to take such oaths of allegiance to their new country," Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman said.

However, the proposed measure is angering Israel's Arab and non-Jewish citizens, who say it's racist. 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also chimed in, calling the new oath fascist.

"This is a fascist and racist act which should not surprise us and is part of a long-standing plan that Israelis are gradually applying," al-Assad said at a joint news conference with visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"It is now proven that Israel, which stands as the only democratic country in the middle of the Arab and Muslim world, is a racist country," he added. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the pledge, saying it reflects the essence of Israel.

"The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and is a democratic state in which all its citizens - Jews and non-Jews - enjoy full equal rights," he said. "Whoever wants to join us, has to recognize us."
    
The bill will go to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, for a final vote.

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