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Why Israel’s Jewish nationality bill is a big deal

Israel/Palestine
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“What will the nature of Israel be? A religious Jewish state? A state of all its citizens? A secular, democratic and Jewish state? It is a debate that will engage us for many, many years,” notes a recent article in the New York Times. Despite what many think, this question of whether Israel is the nation state of the Jews—as opposed to the nation state of its citizens—remains an open question.

The issue was recently raised for discussion by the Israeli right when, on November 19, 2014, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved 14 principles for a new nation state bill that would enshrine the Jewish character of the state in the Basic Law. The question is also being raised by the Israeli left in the form of a proposed law that seeks to cement the status of Israel as a democratic and multi-cultural state. In light of the collapse of the governing coalition in Israel and the call for elections on March 17, 2015, it seems likely that further discussions of these bills will be deferred until after the election. However, if (as expected) Netanyahu emerges with a stronger governing coalition after the election, the effort to constitutionalize the Jewish character of the state will likely be taken up in the 20th Knesset. Anyone who cares about the character of the state that wields power in the name of Judaism should be paying attention.

Israel’s Basic Law: Founding to Bank Mizrahi Ruling

On May 14, 1948 David Ben-Gurion declared Israel an independent Jewish state, although to this day Israel’s “Jewish” character has not been enshrined in a constitution or in Israel’s Basic Law.

Ben-Gurion’s declaration promised that a constitution would be enacted by October 1, 1948. But this never happened. According to a biographyof David Ben-Gurion written by Shimon Perez and Shlomo Aronson, Ben-Gurion strongly preferred to avoid the tricky issue of defining the ethnic nature of the state in black and white. In a protracted battle with Menachem Begin, who wanted to establish the Jewish nature of the state of Israel once and for all, Ben-Gurion’s view of avoiding a constitution that would have defined Israel as a “Jewish State” prevailed at the time. The nation state bills currently before the Knesset, fueled in part by a loss of faith in a two-state solution for the West Bank and Gaza, are reviving this debate.

Bringing the Debate to You

The first Knesset convened in January 1949 and commenced to legislate without a constitution.  The basic functions of the state, such as the make-up of the Knesset, terms of office, the courts, elections, the office of the President, etc., were established through the normal legislative process.  Some of these laws were designated “Basic Laws” with the idea that once they were all in place they would be gathered into a constitution.

In 1992 the Knesset adopted a Basic Law of human dignity and liberty.  Significantly, the 1992 laws made reference to the aspirational statements in the declaration of independence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and said that the Basic Law should be interpreted in accordance with those principles.  (See Amendment 1) The Israeli Supreme Court then, in what has been termed a constitutional revolution, declared the Basic Laws to be superior to all other laws: in the event of a conflict between a regular law and a Basic Law, the Basic Law would trump. As part of this “revolution,” the court also reserved for itself the prerogative to review all laws for consistency with the Basic Law.  See the 1995 Bank Mizrahi ruling.

Through its Bank Mizrahi ruling, the Israeli Supreme Court imbued the Basic Law with the characteristics of a constitution, even though amendment of the Basic Law remains notoriously easy. It was substantial progress towards establishing Israel as a modern democratic state subject to the rule of law.

The Positive Influence of Aharon Barak

How should the courts reconcile the tension between “Jewish” and “democratic” in the Basic Law?  Israel’s famous Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, leaned firmly towards resolving any such conflict in favor of “democratic.”  Jewish means democratic in Barak’s view. “The state is Jewish not in a halachic-religious sense,” he said, “but in the sense that Jews have the right to immigrate to it, and their national experience is the experience of the state ([as] expressed, inter alia, in the language and the holidays).

“The basic values of Judaism are the basic values of the state. I mean the values of love of man, the sanctity of life, social justice, doing what is good and just, protecting human dignity, the rule of law over the legislator and the like, values which Judaism bequeathed to the whole world. Reference to those values is on their universal level of abstraction, which suits Israel’s democratic character, thus one should not identify the values of the state of Israel as a Jewish state with the traditional Jewish civil law. It should not be forgotten that in Israel there is a considerable non-Jewish minority. Indeed, the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish state are those universal values common to members of democratic society, which grew from Jewish tradition and history.”

Thus, in cases where democratic and Jewish truly conflict, said Barak, the judge must choose between them and he should do so “according to the views of the enlightened community in Israel.” Barak felt that the “enlightened views of the community” would provide a suitably objective test “which refers the judge to the full set of values which shape the character of the modern Israeli.”  Barak: Basic Law, Freedom of Occupation, p. 208.

It’s important to recognize that this position outlined by Justice Barak is indeed a strongly liberal and activist view of the law.  However, in the absence of a constitution that provides for judicial review of legislation or that guarantees the equal rights of citizens, and with only weak and vague Basic Laws, it is a type of judicial activism that is absolutely essential if Israel is to be a liberal democracy subject to the rule of law. It is essential just like Marbury v. Madison (which established judicial review in the U.S.) was essential.

Conservative forces in Israel are pushing back against this rule of law model championed by Justice Barak.  For example, Hillel Neuer of the Shalem Center (which is partially funded by Sheldon Adelson) looks at the role of the court described by Justice Barak and he sees dangerous activism limiting the rights of the majority to pass laws as it sees fit, even if such laws may be profoundly undemocratic and discriminatory.

The stakes could not be higher.

State Preference of Jews over Non-Jews

Although the “Jewish” character of the state was not enshrined in a constitution, nor in its Basic Law, and although Israel has made progress towards a modern democratic state governed by the rule of law (but not in the occupied territories), the laws of the state have nevertheless evolved in a discriminatory manner that has privileged Jews over all other citizens. This has occurred despite reference in the Basic Law to the universal democratic values that are mentioned in the declaration of independence (Israel “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; … ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”).

In 1950, the Knesset enacted a Law of Return, granting Jews everywhere the right to immigrate to Israel.  Although not a Basic Law, the law of return, of course, privileges Jews over non-Jewish citizens of the state. In all, the  Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel has compiled a list of more than 50 laws that expressly discriminate against the Palestinian minority in Israel.  Such discrimination covers all areas of life, from rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, to criminal procedures. Systematic discrimination by the state against Palestinians received a head start under martial law that was applied to Palestinian citizens of Israel during the first 18 years of the state’s existence. It is perpetuated by Israeli identity cards that describe “Jewish” as a nationality—leaving non-Jewish citizens out in the cold.  It is exacerbated by the fact that the state opted to outsource the determination of who counts as a Jew to the “rabbis and politicians who adhere to a conservative, orthodox interpretation of Jewish tradition,” says Yacov Yadgar in his recent article in the Journal of Religion and Society.

The Proposed Nation State Law

Here are the 14 principles for a new nation state bill that the Israeli cabinet approved on November 19.

  1. Objective

Defining the identity of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and anchoring the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, in the spirit of the principles contained in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.

  1.  Founding principles:
  2. The land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the birthplace of the State of Israel.
  3. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its right to self-determination according to its cultural and historic heritage.
  4. The right to the fulfillment of national self-determination within the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.
  5. The State of Israel is a democratic state, established on the foundations of liberty, justice and peace in light of the vision of the prophets of Israel, and realizes the individual rights of all its citizens under law.
  1. The symbols of the state:
  2. The anthem of the State is “Hatikvah.”
  3. The flag of the State is white, with two light-blue stripes near its edges and a light-blue Star of David in its center.
  4. The symbol of the State is the seven-armed candelabra, with olive branches on both its sides and the word “Israel” beneath.
  1. Return:

Every Jew has the right to immigrate to the land [Israel] and to receive the citizenship of the State of Israel under law.

  1. Ingathering of the exiles and strengthening the ties to the Jewish people in the Diaspora:

The State shall act to gather in the exiles of Israel and to strengthen the affinity between Israel and the Jewish communities of the Diaspora.

  1. Aid to the Jewish people in distress:

The State shall act to give aid to members of the Jewish people who are in distress and captivity because of their Jewishness.

  1. Heritage:
  2. The State shall act to preserve the cultural and historic heritage and tradition of the Jewish people, and to cultivate and foster them in Israel and the Diaspora.
  3. In all educational institutions serving the Jewish public in Israel the annals of the Jewish people, its heritage and tradition, shall be studied.
  4. The State shall act to enable all residents of Israel, without regard to religion, race or nationality, to act to preserve their culture, heritage, language and identity.
  1. Official calendar:

The Hebrew calendar is the official calendar of the State.

  1. Independence Day and memorial days:
  2. Independence Day is the national holiday of the State.
  3. Memorial Day for the Fallen in Israel’s Wars and Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day are the official memorial days of the State.
  1. Days of rest:

The established days of rest in the State of Israel are the Sabbath and the holidays of Israel, in which no employee shall be employed except under conditions set in law. Members of recognized [religious] groups shall be allowed to rest on their rest days and holidays.

  1. Hebrew law:
  2. Jewish law shall serve as a source of inspiration for the Knesset.
  3. If a court faces a legal question that must be decided, and cannot find an answer in legislation, precedent or clear deduction, it shall decide the matter in light of the principles of liberty, justice, integrity and peace in the heritage of Israel.
  1. Protection of holy places:

The holy places shall be secure from desecration, from any other harm, and from anything that may hinder free access of the religious to the places holy to them, or offend their sentiments toward those places.

  1. Denial of rights:

The rights in the Basic Law shall not be denied except in a law that accords with the values of the State of Israel, that is intended for a fitting purpose and to an extent no greater than necessary, or according to such a law under the explicit authority contained within it.

  1. Rigidity

This Basic Law shall not be changed except by a Basic Law passed by a majority of members of Knesset.

A Profound Turn Away from Liberal and Democratic Values

Eugene Kontorovich over at Volokh Conspiracy claims these principles for a proposed nation state law are no big deal. “The nation state bills mostly constitutionalize the national anthem, symbols, holidays, and so forth. There is nothing racist, or even unusual, about having national or religious character reflected in constitutional commitments,” says Kontorovich. Horsefeathers!  The 14 principles for a nation state law approved by the cabinet represent a profound turn away from liberal democratic values towards an ethnocracy based on 2,500 year old values. Abandoning Enlightenment values and a modern liberal democratic state in favor of a Talmudic ethnocracy is a big deal—especially in the Middle East, we might say, where modern liberal democratic states are hard to come by.

In the context of discrimination that occurs in Israel against Palestinian citizens, to “constitutionalize” the identity of the state as a Jewish state and the nation state of the Jewish people, where the Jewish people, and nobody else, may fulfill their right to self-determination, is a big deal. It very dramatically shifts the state away from the vision outlined by Justice Barak, it removes the ability of the Supreme Court to nudge the country towards a vision of equality for all citizens, and it lays the groundwork for fully implementing an ethnocracy that privileges Jews over all others in perpetuity.

To constitutionalize that the symbols of the state will be Jewish religious symbols may not be a big deal to Kontorovich, but it will be a big deal to non-Jewish citizens. To constitutionalize a right of return for “every Jew” while the state refuses to grant even so much as a visa to the West Bank spouses of Palestinian Israeli citizens– let alone any return to Palestinian refugees– will not be acceptable to Palestinian Israeli citizens.

A state that actively works to promote immigration of one ethnic group, while actively working to exclude immigration from minority ethnic groups will not be acceptable to the minority.

A constitutional mandate that the state “act to preserve” (read fund) Jewish cultural heritage and  “act to enable” (read not fund) the heritage of other citizens will not sit well with the other citizens.

Constitutionally directing that courts must look to Israeli/Hebrew traditions to resolve open questions is to deprive Israeli courts of a tool they have used to interpret laws consistent with liberal democratic values. In light of Israeli court precedent, which often turn to the laws of other modern states for guidance, this is a profound change. It directs the court to look to 2,500 year old legal traditions and to ignore post Enlightenment traditions.

A change in language from the declaration of independence, which prominently called for the protection of all holy places for all religions, to protecting just the holy places of the Jewish state is ominous.

Conclusion

The proposed Basic Law to define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people is a big deal. It would mark a dramatic change in law from the status quo.  Although it might not effect a large change in terms of how many conceive of the state now, or in terms of the ethnocratic facts on the ground, it would provide legal cover for a system that privileges Jews over all others in all aspects of life. It would severely hamper the Israeli Supreme Court to reverse this trend and nudge the country back towards a post-Enlightenment democratic state.

Failure to stop this law would have far reaching consequences.

This post first appeared on Roland Nikles’s blog.

Roland Nikles
About Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: rolandnikles.blogspot.com. And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

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51 Responses

  1. Walid
    Walid
    December 13, 2014, 1:12 pm

    “Hebrew law: Jewish law shall serve as a source of inspiration for the Knesset.”

    Would that make it a Jewish shariah law?

    • Orryia
      Orryia
      December 13, 2014, 2:05 pm

      What part of “inspiration” can’t you understand?

      By the way, speaking of Sharia:

      “The principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.”

      That’s the Palestinian constitution, article four.

      http://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Palestine_%282003%29

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 13, 2014, 2:56 pm

        Orryia,

        I think that simply using shariah or Halakha as a consideration or factor in making laws is not necessarily very bad. Even in the US we use them to see if a marriage occurred.

        If you have a state based strictly on religious law, and it rules over a mass of people, the majority of whom are a different religion, there is a problem. Were Palestine to rule a majority Jewish population using strict Shariah law there would be a big problem. However, fortunately neither the Israeli state nor the Muslim states of the Levant enforce strict religious law.

        BTW the Israeli/Saudi-assisted ISIS actually violates Shariah law by being harsher and more strict than Shariah law.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 13, 2014, 2:57 pm

        (Or were the Israeli state to base itself strongly on rabbinical Halakha and rule a majority of Muslims and Christians in Palestine/Israel, there would be a big problem too.)

      • Walid
        Walid
        December 13, 2014, 3:25 pm

        ISIS too pretends it’s inspired by Moslem Sharia law when it goes around beheading innocent people. I’m not vaunting it or pushing it, Orriyia, but recalling how the Zionists love to knock the Arab and Muslim states that do have it and they seem to be heading down the ISIS road in more ways than you think. Israel uses more sophisticated weapons to do it. Too much of any religion is not a very good thing.

      • December 13, 2014, 3:26 pm

        Good for the gander but not the goose?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 13, 2014, 7:57 pm

        “What part of “inspiration” can’t you understand?”

        “Jewish law shall serve as a source of inspiration” Fritz, take it easy! Easy guy!

        BTW, shall we inquire which other famous leader averred that German folk-law provided all the legal foundation the State required?

      • catporn
        catporn
        December 15, 2014, 6:55 pm

        David’s father was well placed in both government and religious establishments, thus was well placed to choose the laws that condoned his crimes.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      December 13, 2014, 2:10 pm

      Hebrew law must be broader and more liberal than its subset, Jewish law. Israel, the Jews, and the Hebrews are often confused in modern parlance, and the Knesset is apparently no exception.

      In fact, Abraham belonged to the Hebrews, and thus Muslim Arab tradition theoretically could be traced to him and “Hebrew Law”, were Islam’s claims of Abrahamic lineage correct.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 13, 2014, 8:00 pm

      “Would that make it a Jewish shariah law?”

      Maybe, but probably more of as “whatever-the-f–k-we-feel-like-at-the-moment” basis for law. “Jewish law shall serve as a source of inspiration” Those phrases mean nothing.

  2. NormanF
    NormanF
    December 13, 2014, 2:34 pm

    Not exactly.

    Whereas Muslims demand Islamic law apply to non-Muslims, Judaism has no parallel. Jewish law applies only to Jews.

    In Israel, the minority communities can apply their own religious laws to their own communities.

    The proposed Basic Law is a continuation of the terms of the League Of Nations Mandate in which it is made clear only Jews have political rights but nothing may be done that could prejudice the individual rights enjoyed by non-Jews.

    British Palestine was intended to become a Jewish country in every aspect of the word. Of course, it made the Balfour Declaration part of international law, recognizing the Jewish right to national self-determination.

    In the Basic Law approved by the Israeli Cabinet, all this is consolidated in a fundamental law of the state that entrenches the essence of the Zionist vision: that Israel is the Jewish State and the nation-state of the Jewish people.

    Every country in the word has similar principles about a national homeland. Israel is seeking to make the principles that led to its founding part of the highest law of the state. And the Zionist majority wants Israel to be the Jewish State.

    • piotr
      piotr
      December 13, 2014, 11:15 pm

      “Whereas Muslims demand Islamic law apply to non-Muslims, Judaism has no parallel. Jewish law applies only to Jews.”

      False on both counts. For example, Islamic Republic of Iran allows alcohol to be sold to Christians, Jews (and Zoroastrians?), and of course, consumed by them. Of course, criminal laws are common to all inhabitants, but this is a matter of societal norms. E.g. death penalty and comparatively ridiculously long prison sentences and wide use of solitary confinement is within the cultural norm of U.S.A. but not in Europe. So one can ponder if U.S.A. is closer to Iran or to Europe in its criminal laws and law enforcement.

      Concerning religious inspiration impacting Israeli laws, one of the basic issues is property right. Can the state take away property on some conditions, and if yes, can those conditions be predicated on religion (OK to take from non-Jews but not from Jews in some particular circumstances). So the property was taken away from non-Jews if they were “absentees” (even if they were actually present nearby and prevented from visiting their properties by military force), and equally absent Jews (in the West Bank) we “given their property back” upon conquest (reconquista?). And the inspiration was religious, as God gave the entire Holy Land to Jews, with the advise to slaughter the current owners.

    • Vikram
      Vikram
      December 14, 2014, 6:49 am

      “Every country in the word has similar principles about a national homeland” Is that so ? Please tell me whose homeland is Australia, perhaps the Aborigine’s ? A state is the homeland of it’s citizens.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 14, 2014, 3:35 pm

      “Israel is seeking to make the principles that led to its founding part of the highest law of the state.”

      And those principles are? Care to tell us, NormaF? Or are they just “Jewish” and there’s an end to it?

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        December 14, 2014, 4:27 pm

        1. Dunam by dunam
        2. Everyone hates us
        3. Shut them up with slurs of antisemitism
        4. Shaft the Holocaust survivors but take the money
        5. Build but skimp on the material
        6. Get your revenge in first
        7. Claim leadership of Judaism- the schmucks won’t say anything
        8. Make up with the Germans and cast the Arabs as the Nazis
        9. Put the women in uniform and get Leon Uris to write about them
        10. Send the Sephardim to the desert
        11. Massage the trauma

      • just
        just
        December 14, 2014, 4:54 pm

        ;-((

        Everything is upside down, except this:

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 14, 2014, 6:34 pm

        “And those principles are?”

        Saleema summed them up.

        “We matter and you don’t.”

    • pjdude
      pjdude
      December 15, 2014, 1:03 am

      british palestine was never intended to become a jewish state. it was intended to become the state of palestine. the balfour decleration was never part of international law. and jews didn’t have the right to self determination. religious groups have never had that group least of all in a teritory they didn’t reside and comprised a small minority in. as usual for a zionist jew your either lying or grossly ignorant of the topic your talking on.

  3. mcohen.
    mcohen.
    December 13, 2014, 3:21 pm

    orryia

    eeeeeeexxxxxactly ..right

    jewish law for a israel and sharia law for a palestinian state……thats what it says …..obviously for those who wish to enforce a one state solution it is a block.

    a one state solution will eventually lead to an attempt by arabs to enforce sharia law through the democratic process,the demographics back this up

    the right of return for arabs expelled will be balanced by the right of return for jews .

    israel was established as a state to support jews in distress……there is no doubt that that century after century jews have been persecueted for relegious reasons

    there is no doubt that israel was the birthplace of judaism and was in the oast a jewish state…..so there is nothing new here

    there is no doubt that arab armies have occupied land that once belonged to a jewish state

    there is no doubt that land was set aside for a jewish state by the un

    therefore jewish law will be the law in that state

    democracy……….the cornerstone of modern civilization …….the way to lose your G-d given rights gracefully with civility

    • amigo
      amigo
      December 14, 2014, 6:12 am

      “israel was established as a state to support jews in distres “- mcc

      Odd that, as jews are in great distress in your so called jewish state.Scurrying into shelters or afraid to go out in case a bus knocks them over or an Arab knifes them or worse still , attempts to date their daughter.

      “there is no doubt that land was set aside for a jewish state by the un”mcc

      There is no doubt that is zionist hogwash.There was no mention of a jewish state.Homeland was mentioned and also it was stated quite clearly ,” That nothing should be done that effects the rights of non jews”.

      There is no doubt , you are delusional.Believing in a god given piece of land from some real estate agent in the sky.What sick people you are.But then I am not the first to make that observation.

      http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/President-Rivlin-Time-to-admit-that-Israel-is-a-sick-society-that-needs-treatment-379223

      • mcohen.
        mcohen.
        December 14, 2014, 6:54 am

        amigo

        you think i am delusional

        they pay back, amigo big time

        paintings looted ……give back

        cash stolen …….give back

        ss murderers…….hunted down

        homeland mentioned ?

        is that an american tv show…….mentioned for best actress……i love claire danes character carrie……my kind of women

        as to my beliefs …..what can i say to your logic except this

        if you can tell me what comes next i will agree with you

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 14, 2014, 12:12 pm

        amigo: “there is no doubt that land was set aside for a jewish state by the un”mcc
        </iThere is no doubt that is zionist hogwash. There was no mention of a jewish state

        ——
        Actually, UN Resolution 181 called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State. There are numerous references to the proposed Jewish State.

        http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/0/7F0AF2BD897689B785256C330061D253

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 14, 2014, 3:38 pm

        “you think i am delusional

        they pay back, amigo big time
        paintings looted ……give back
        cash stolen …….give back
        ss murderers…….hunted down
        homeland mentioned ?”

        Everybody be careful! I think we are in the presence of one of those “Inglorious Basterds”. Those guys are tough!

      • amigo
        amigo
        December 16, 2014, 11:04 am

        amigo

        you think i am delusional

        they pay back, amigo big time

        paintings looted ……give back

        cash stolen …….give back

        ss murderers…….hunted down

        mccohen.

        Lets do a swap.You give back the West Bank and rebuild the 400 Arab villages you destroyed and allow the 700,000 natives to return to the houses destroyed by jews and I am sure the rest of what was stolen from you can be found.

        One question, what does stolen art /cash have to do with Palestinians.Or are you just plain stuck for a credible response.

        Wouldn,t you be happier in your real homeland.

        I was wrong you are not delusional, you are suffering from an unhealthy dose of ziocaine.It is much worse than I previously suspected.Seek help.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 14, 2014, 8:43 am

      “israel was established as a state to support jews in distress”

      That was not the motive the original Zionists proclaimed. But how will Jewish law in Israel help Jews in distress?

      “there is no doubt that that century after century jews have been persecueted for relegious reasons”

      But Israel already has a law to enable persecuted jew to enter Israel.

      “there is no doubt that israel was the birthplace of judaism”

      Palestine was the birthplace of Christianity. And, since Baha’u’llah spent the last 24 years of his life in ‘Akka (Acre), and wrote the main Baha’i scripture (along with much else) there, and the headquarters of the Baha’i faith are in Israel, it can be fairly claimed to be one of the birthplaces of the Baha’i faith.

      “and was in the oast a jewish state”

      Also a Christian state, under the Crusaders. And a Mandated State of Palestine administered by the British. As well as having been a part of the ancient Egyptian Empire, Alexander’s Empire, the Roman Empire, the Caliphates, and the Ottoman Empire, among others. Plenty of claims possible on that basis.

      “democracy……….the cornerstone of modern civilization”

      Not keen on democracy or civilization ?

      “the way to lose your G-d given rights gracefully with civility”

      Democracy and civilization can help you to keep your rights. Incidentally, rights are not given by God. They are fundamental elements of morality, and so aren’t dependent on the whims of any deity.

      • amigo
        amigo
        December 16, 2014, 8:12 am

        reply to Sibiriak above.

        “Actually, UN Resolution 181 called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State. There are numerous references to the proposed Jewish State.”

        So when is Israel going to recognise Palestine.
        Why is netanyahu /Israel so desperate to prevent the UN from recognising Palestine.You had best point out 181 to him.He seems to be unaware of it.

    • talknic
      talknic
      December 14, 2014, 12:15 pm

      @ mcohen.

      the right of return for arabs expelled will be balanced by the right of return for jews.”

      A) The Palestinians didn’t expel any Jews from the Arab states.

      B) People who have taken citizenship in a state other than the state of return, are no longer refugees. They have no RoR. There are no longer any Jewish refugees!

      C) The people who have RoR to Israel are Israeli according to the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel … http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/declaration%20of%20establishment%20of%20state%20of%20israel.aspx “WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

      “israel was established as a state to support jews in distress……there is no doubt that that century after century jews have been persecueted for relegious reasons”

      Fine. So we have had our our Jewish state for 66 years and it has spent 66 years illegally acquiring non-Israeli territory. It’s about time to get the ^&^% out of what remained of Palestine

      “there is no doubt that israel was the birthplace of judaism and was in the oast a jewish state…..”

      Irrelevant to the legal extent of Israeli sovereignty and Israel’s illegal activities as the Occupying Power over non-Israeli territories.

      “there is no doubt that arab armies have occupied land that once belonged to a jewish state”

      Interesting history, but irrelevant to the legal extent of Israeli sovereignty and Israel’s illegal activities as the Occupying Power over non-Israeli territories. There has been no Israeli territory occupied by any Arab state

      “there is no doubt that land was set aside for a jewish state by the un”

      Under UNGA res 181, accepted by the Jewish agency as binding http://wp.me/pDB7k-Yx

      Israel’s boundaries were proclaimed by the Israeli Government in the plea for recognition and Israel was recognized as such! http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf

      Israel has never legally acquired any further territory

      “therefore jewish law will be the law in that state”

      Therefore it cannot be a democracy with non-Jewish citizens having equal rights and freedom of or from religion

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 14, 2014, 3:24 pm

        Gee, to the US, I am, whatever its other faults, a citizen, but to Zionism I am a refugee? That’s comforting.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 14, 2014, 3:30 pm

      Is anybody going to do us the favor of telling us what “Jewish Law” is? Is there a book of Jewish Law?
      I mean, are we saying that legal questions will be referred to a bunch of Rabbis? Now, I like Rabbis, and a guy can be a Lawyer and a Rabbi (look at Hophmi, and all the others) but will he be a Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, Reconstructionist , or Secular Rabbi?

      This whol;e volk-law notion is extremely suspicious. You know what? I don’t think there really is, in any pratical sense, a Jewish Law. They just make it up as they go along What are its principles? What are its precedents? It’s bullshit.

    • eljay
      eljay
      December 14, 2014, 7:13 pm

      >> mcoheneee: israel was established as a state to support jews in distress……there is no doubt that that century after century jews have been persecueted …

      There is also no doubt that century after century homosexuals have been persecuted. But neither homosexuals nor Jews are entitled to a supremacist state.

      Justice and accountability are the correct responses to acts of injustice and immorality.

      Oppression, colonialism, expansionism and supremacism – whether Jewish, homosexual, Islamic, white or other – are not the correct responses to acts of injustice and immorality.

      This should be incredibly clear to anyone with even the slightest sense of morality. Zio-supremacists, it seems, lack that slightest sense of morality.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        December 15, 2014, 12:08 am

        The Roma, amongst others, have suffered a similar fate. Again the correct action/reaction is as you stated.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 15, 2014, 6:11 pm

        “israel was established as a state to support jews in distress……”

        AT the end of WW2 there were about 300-400,000 Jews in Displaced Persons camps in Europe. Some of them may have, if given the choice, may very well have chosen to be resettled in Palestine.

  4. just
    just
    December 13, 2014, 4:43 pm

    Enlightenment, eh? Hasn’t there always been people who mouth off about how Muslims “over there” are living in the “dark ages”?

    The way that I see it is that with Israel, enlightenment has always been a figment of their innovative imagination. It’s really only ever been an ethnocracy. Now, toss in the Talmud mixed with fascism, and it’s an even scarier, dark place that they are electing to create.

    I truly wish people would stop referring to it as a “Western” country and a democracy.

    ““The basic values of Judaism are the basic values of the state. I mean the values of love of man, the sanctity of life, social justice, doing what is good and just, protecting human dignity, the rule of law over the legislator and the like, values which Judaism bequeathed to the whole world.”

    How I wish that these values had been adhered to. Thank you, Roland.

    Perhaps this is why has it taken this state so long to craft a constitution…it took the US 13 years, iirc.

  5. seafoid
    seafoid
    December 13, 2014, 4:53 pm

    The Swiss newspaper NZZ was scathing about this law last Sunday. It would just make apartheid official was what they said in an editorial.
    The machine needs this law to survive but if they implement it the machine will die anyway.
    They never thought ahead, those bots.

  6. StanleyHeller
    StanleyHeller
    December 13, 2014, 5:11 pm

    Let’s get this out to the general reader. I wrote about this yesterday in the New Haven Register in a piece called “Why Does the U.S. Support Israel’s ‘Jim Crow’ Government?”

    http://www.nhregister.com/opinion/20141209/forum-why-does-the-us-support-israels-jim-crow-government

    would appreciate it if you could give your views in the Comments section on the Register page

  7. RoHa
    RoHa
    December 13, 2014, 5:29 pm

    “The basic values of Judaism are the basic values of the state. I mean the values of love of man, the sanctity of life, social justice, doing what is good and just, protecting human dignity, the rule of law over the legislator and the like, values which Judaism bequeathed to the whole world. …those universal values common to members of democratic society, which grew from Jewish tradition and history.”

    And with cherry tomatoes on top, too.

    What a load of self-aggrandizing tripe! Those values were known and held in the world when Judaism was just the religion of a little group of shepherds and farmers in Palestine.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 15, 2014, 1:05 pm

      “And with cherry tomatoes on top, too.”

      I know, RoHa. I looked in on this thread today thinking that somebody was going to school me on my inadequate conception of “Jewish law” and its relevance and utility in running the State of Israel, especially at this time. I thought I’d be crushed. Oh well, give it a bit longer.

  8. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    December 13, 2014, 6:54 pm

    Bibi should follow [Sony exec] Amy Pascal’s angle and add the following sentence to his proposal:

    ” I accept full responsibility for what I wrote, but this Nation State Law is not an accurate reflection of who I am” LINK

  9. RoHa
    RoHa
    December 13, 2014, 7:56 pm

    A trifle OT, and maybe this has already been reported on MW.

    Portugal’s parliament has asked the government to recognise a Palestinian state.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/12/12/389973/portugal-calls-for-palestine-statehood/

    Sweden, Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium, and now Portugal.

    That old black hasbara no longer seems to have Europe in its spell.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 15, 2014, 10:36 am

      “That old black hasbara no longer seems to have Europe in its spell.”

      That old black hasbara that they do so well?

      Ms. Smith’s magic always works on me. Round and round I go!

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 15, 2014, 5:12 pm

        They don’t seem to weave it so well these days. But it’s still round and round and down and down.

    • just
      just
      December 15, 2014, 11:25 am

  10. Mooser
    Mooser
    December 13, 2014, 8:12 pm

    If this isn’t the final nail in the coffin of Liberal Zionism, I don’t know what could be.

  11. CigarGod
    CigarGod
    December 15, 2014, 8:31 am

    This must be where where the “two steps back” saying , came from.

  12. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    December 15, 2014, 12:49 pm

    I regard the Nationality Proposal as a reaffirmation of what has always existed, not so much as a a change. I think it is a mistake to regard the likes of Aharon Barak as representing a more virtuous phase of Zionism: the likes of him, remarking blandly that Israel is Jewish in its immigration laws – thus skirting, rather outrageously, over the parallel fact that millions of non-Jewish people born in Israeli territory were excluded from it – were offering a misleading persona, not a better personality, for the Zionist system. Zionist judges, judicially reviewing the legislation of Zionist politicians, must in the end reinforce the basic mistake of Zionism, ie the claim to exclusive rights for people ‘just because’ they are Jewish and the denial of certain rights to certain others ‘just because’ they are not.
    Nails in the coffin of liberal Zionism have been mentioned – but I don’t think that it will take long for judges and lawyers, sounding in almost every breath just like their liberal American counterparts, to become undead liberals – the state’s Jewish character does not amount to discrimination against non-Jews but to an expression of generosity towards them in their displaced existence. living where they have no right to be. Where else are such people given so many basically undeserved rights, leading to so many material benefits? This is what liberal and not-so-liberal Zionists have always believed all the way back to Altneuland.

    • DaveS
      DaveS
      December 15, 2014, 1:02 pm

      Thanks MH for articulating what I felt about this article. With a few small changes, it could have been authored by Alan Dershowitz, who idolizes Aharon Barak as well. The only way in which this bill as “a big deal” is that it strips away the thin, transparent veneer of “democratic and Jewish” that was always impossible to reconcile in the first place. I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing at all – it simply codifies what has been in place since 1948 and what Israel’s “liberal” defenders have struggled so hard to deliberately overlook.

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      December 15, 2014, 7:06 pm

      @ MHughes976,

      Everything which happened in Germany between 1933 and [the midst of] 1945 was perfectly legal and according to the letter of the [German] law.

      To bad the SS [Stockholm Syndrome] hails from Sweden…

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 16, 2014, 12:12 pm

        Germany between 1933 and 45? I don’t know, law-making like this seems to have an older, more Continental provenance. Reminds me of the Committee of Public Safety.

  13. Theo
    Theo
    December 16, 2014, 8:39 am

    I really enjoy this spirited and witty contest of words on jewish values and history, it reminds me of the following little story.
    Three men were positioned near an elephant, one front of him, one behind and one on the side, and were asked to report their impressions. They describe the same animal, they were all correct, but what a difference their stories made!
    Politics are the dirtiest business in this world, the mafia could learn a few things in Tel Aviv and Washington, or in London, Paris, etc. Give me a few speeches of a politician and by taking excerpts I can make him a national hero or a traitor to his land!
    Going back to Israel, it was half way democratic and had a social face until the two million soviet jews arrived, (a good third of them were not even jewish, but Israel needed the headcount, therefore welcomed), bringing with them the soviet system of occupation, surpression and arrogance. The results are what we see today, a small replica of the good old UdSSR!!!

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