The Druze, who follow an offshoot of Shiite Islam, have managed to survive in a turbulent region by showing loyalty to their country of residence - sometimes at the cost of fighting other Druze on the battlefield.
The highly-contested nation-state Basic Law passed by a 62-55 margin in parliament last week, speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews and says they have a "unique" right to self-determination within its borders.
It marked the first time in recent memory that the Druze community, typically fiercely loyal to the state, staged a large public protest. Led by Israel's Druze minority, the crowd, filling almost every square foot of the city's central square, repeatedly cheered "Equality!" as speakers railed against the recently passed legislation.
The proposal included investment in Druze towns and villages, a special law recognizing the Druze and other minorities who serve in the security forces and support for Druze culture and institutions. The same way we fight for the existence of the state, we are determined to fight for the right to live in equality and dignity.
Critics say the new law undermines the country's democratic values by downgrading non-Jewish minorities.
Arab Israelis make up around 20 percent of the country's 9 million citizens.
Holding colourful Druze flags alongside Israeli ones, protesters at Saturday's demonstration, estimated by local media at over 50,000, chanted "equality", AFP reported. The community in Israel numbers around 150,000 and unlike Israel's Muslim Arab population most choose to serve in the army or complete national service. "We never questioned the Jewish identity of the state", said Sheikh Muafak Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze in Israel.
Individual rights, Netanyahu said, are anchored in numerous Jewish state's (existing) laws, but not so Jewish national rights.
In a sign of growing anger over the law, two Druze officers in the Israeli military threatened to resign.
Therefore we legislated the nation-state law, to ensure that the State of Israel remains not just democratic, but also the nation-state of the Jewish people, and of the Jewish people alone.
The Druze activist said the law would only harm "the heart of Israeli society, "those people who perceive themselves as part of the Israeli society...." The possibility still exists of unity around the Declaration of Independence instead of this Nation State law.
The Israeli left-wing and leaders of Israel's wider Arab community have also condemned the new law.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered representatives of the state's Druze population a proposal to pass new legislation strengthening the status of the community.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought off critics of the Nationality (Jewish Nation State) Law at the cabinet meeting on Sunday.