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New nation-state law shows ‘strength’ of Israeli democracy, Netanyahu aide tells US Jews

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Last July the Israeli parliament adopted a basic law defining Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people,” with more rights for Jews than other groups: including that Arabic was no longer an official language, that “Jewish settlement” was a national value, and that the right of “national self-determination” in Israel was “unique” to Jews.

The law was denounced by Palestinians as an apartheid law, in which Palestinian citizens are absent. And liberal Zionists condemned the “shocking” law for making Palestinians “at best second class citizens.”

Two days ago Sara Greenberg, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s adviser for diaspora Jews, sought to calm the waters by telling an audience of American Jews that the law is misunderstood by American Jews and that it actually reflects the strength of Israeli democracy— because worse clauses were removed from the bill.

“There was a lot of different controversial clauses that came out through the debate and that ultimately were not in the bill, and I think from that perspective it was an example of the
strength of Israeli democratic institutions. But perhaps in the end, a lot of people didn’t realize that those clauses were out,” Greenberg said at the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America meeting in Tel Aviv.

Greenberg was apparently referring to a line encouraging housing discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or religion. It would have allowed the state to “authorize a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community.” American Jews decried the clause as reminiscent of Jim Crow laws.

It was replaced with the line, “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”

She also said American Jews misunderstood the law’s references to religion.

“The misunderstanding that I saw that came in a lot of the conversations I had in the diaspora communities was around the question of religion,” Greenberg said. “A lot of people interpreted the law as defining a national religion, which was not the case. While there are I believe seven European countries that have state religions, the way this law handled religion was not to not  handle it at all, but rather to think of Jewish people as a civilization, to understand what it means to create a self determined state with political independence for the Jewish people. That was a real misunderstanding.”

That is a misrepresentation. In fact the law twice refers to the Jewish religion, beginning: “The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, religious, and historic right to self-determination.”

The second reference to religion –“The state will act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious legacy of the Jewish people among the Jewish diaspora” — is the line that was seen by some American Jews as obnoxious. The head of the Jewish Federations, the organization Greenberg addressed, said that language was “definitely patronizing” to American Jews. Jerry Silverman said that the clause was meant to stymie religious pluralism in Israel, and to limit the ability of non-orthodox Jews to hold mixed-gender prayers at the western wall. Silverman had argued against that clause, to no avail.

No one contradicted Greenberg’s misrepresentations about the law, though; and today Chemi Shalev wrote in Haaretz that the general assembly of North American Jews had deferred to Netanyahu rather than taking him on.

 

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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15 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay
    October 24, 2018, 1:16 pm

    … The misunderstanding that I saw that came in a lot of the conversations I had in the diaspora communities was around the question of religion,” Greenberg said. “A lot of people interpreted the law as defining a national religion, which was not the case. … the way this law handled religion was not to not handle it at all, but rather to think of Jewish people as a civilization, to understand what it means to create a self determined state with political independence for the Jewish people. That was a real misunderstanding.” …

    It’s really very simple:
    – Jewish is a religion-based identity that can only be acquired by:
         – undergoing a religious conversion to Judaism; or
         – being descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.
    – A “Jewish State” of Israel – a state (primarily) of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews – is therefore a religion-supremacist construct.

    Greenberg’s comment about a Jewish “civilization” is particularly amusing in light of…
    – what the Jewish identity is (a religion-based identity); and
    – what it isn’t (the bureaucratic nationality of all people living in and up to n-generations removed from “Jewish State”).

  2. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    October 24, 2018, 2:31 pm

    Meanwhile Herr Yahoo the Pukemeister in Chief has called for a”state minus” for the Palestinians. You know like Vichy France but “Bantustanised” a la South Africa. This must be the great “opportunity” that slimy Kushner has referred to in his recent interview ref his “own” taking the piss plan.
    https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/WATCH-LIVE-Netanyahu-addresses-the-GA-570153

    In the Yahoo`s Meister Reich Vichy style plan the Palestinians would have no sovereignty , no independent control of their own “borders” or freedom of movement in and out of their “state minus” , no control over their own security ( ie being able to protect themselves from Zioloons ) no control over their natural resources be they water , agricultural or mineral and of course they will not get back the prime fertile land stolen by the Zios.

    What a glorious opportunity for the Untermenschen. If they reject it of course they will yet again be accused of missing yet another golden opportunity which they never miss missing etc etc etc.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      October 24, 2018, 2:48 pm

      Israel’s dilemma is, and has always been, that it wants the land but not the people. So the aim is to divest themselves of responsiblity for all those pesky Palestinians sullying the ‘demographic integrity’ of their Jewish state, while at the same time retaining control over their land. In a sense it has that already – the West Bank is to all extents and purposes part of Israel, just that the non-Jews who have the temerity to live there don’t get citizenship or any other rights.

      Any ‘two state solution’ will essentially be formalising that arrangement, with perhaps a few pseudo-rights thrown at the Palestinians. Miliekowsky is different from previous Israeli leaders only in the sense that he fully admits to that. To quote the late, great, Edward Said, no Israeli leader has ever advocated a Palestinian state, and none ever will.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      October 24, 2018, 2:49 pm

      ” being descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.”

      And, if I’m not mistaken, should such a person convert to a religion other than Judaism, they will no longer be considered a ‘Jew’ under the laws of the Jewish state.

      • eljay
        eljay
        October 24, 2018, 7:04 pm

        || Maximus Decimus Meridius: ” being descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.”

        And, if I’m not mistaken, should such a person convert to a religion other than Judaism, they will no longer be considered a ‘Jew’ under the laws of the Jewish state. ||

        And that will no doubt consume with fury the Zionists here on MW who believe that it is wrong to dictate to any Jew how he should be Jewish / what his Jewish identity should mean to him.

        I mean, I can’t imagine* any Zionist here on MW being hypocritical enough:
        – to be mad at me even though I have never laid down the law to any Jew; but
        – to be happy with Israel even though it does lay down those laws.
        _____________________
        (*Kidding. I can imagine it very well.)

    • Rashers2
      Rashers2
      October 26, 2018, 6:49 am

      Instructive that more of the JP article linked above by @Ossinev was about Mileikowsky’ s concerns over “loss of Jewish identity” (read, “loss of blind support for Zioland from younger, secular Diaspora Jews, particularly in the USA and Western Europe”) than about “Vichy-Minus”, although the latter apparently consumed most of his GA speech, to which I didn’t listen because the sight and sound of Mileikowsky does unpleasant things to my stomach. Fear of this “loss of identity” is what prompts such as Herzog and Bennett to rail against all those traitorous, young Diaspora Jews who miscegenate (Zionists must be practically the only group in the world who unembarrassedly still use that heavily-loaded word for marrying outside the tribe).

  3. amigo
    amigo
    October 24, 2018, 3:28 pm

    “New nation-state law shows ‘strength’ of Israeli democracy, Netanyahu aide tells US Jews”.

    Should read !!.

    “”New nation-state law shows ‘strength’ of Jewish Israeli democracy, Netanyahu aide tells US Jews”.

    Is Ziocaine administered to the pregnant Mother or injected into the 2 day old child.Is it injected into the chicken and Rye Bread .

    In any event , this is a powerful drug.Maybe it would be better used as a tool against world hunger or eradicating oppression and land theft.

    Given that Israel has the worlds leading Pharma giants , it shouldn,t be too difficult for them to find a far better application then to allow it to destroy the worlds one and only Jewish state .

    On mature reflection –why should I care.

  4. RoHa
    RoHa
    October 25, 2018, 12:47 am

    “but rather to think of Jewish people as a civilization,”

    What does that mean?

    • eljay
      eljay
      October 25, 2018, 8:21 am

      || RoHa: “but rather to think of Jewish people as a civilization,”

      What does that mean? ||

      Easy:
      – Start guessing.
      – The guesses that are not met with accusations of anti-Semitism and “Jew hatred” are what that means.

  5. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    October 25, 2018, 6:50 am

    ”New nation-state law shows ‘strength’ of Jewish Israeli democracy, should read ‘Jewish only’.

    Imagine if the UK had in its statutes, and the USA had in its constitution measures to ensure only white people had the right to immigration [one of Israel’s basic laws is only Jews have the right to immigration into Israel]. Continuing the analogy with Israel’s recently passed ‘Nation-State’ [basic law].

    1. “The states of the UK and the US are the nation-states of the ‘white people”.

    2. “The actualization of the right of national self- determination in the states of the UK/USA is unique to white people”

    3. “The UK/USA will labour to ensure the safety of sons of white people”.

    4. “The UK/USA will act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious legacy of white people among the Diaspora”.

    5. “The UK/USA views ‘white’s only’ settlement as joint national values and will labour to encourage and promote its establishment and development”.

    Now let us look at one of the IHRA examples which the Labour Party have incorporated into the Labour Party rule book:

    “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination – e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour”.

    Who could deny that examples 1 to 5 above if incorporated into UK and US law would prove 100% that the UK and US were inherently racist and that their ‘existence were racist endeavours’ and that anyone in the UK/US [including Jeremy Corbyn] who disapproved of 1 to 5 above, and said so, would fall foul of the IHRA definition, be accused of being Anti Semitic and drummed out of associations like the Labour Party and possibly ostracised from society for life. Disgraceful.

  6. Misterioso
    Misterioso
    October 25, 2018, 10:29 am

    These desperate racist measures by Bibi and his fellow thugs provide more proof that “Israel” is an historical anachronism devoid of legitimacy and doomed to collapse. 70 years of trying to “pound a square peg into a round hole.”

  7. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    October 25, 2018, 5:04 pm

    « There was a lot of different controversial clauses that came out through the debate and that ultimately were not in the bill, and I think from that perspective it was an example of the
    strength of Israeli democratic institutions »

    Whoever comes after Netanyahu will be worse. Authoritarianism is stronger than the institutions. Fascism is just a matter of time. Leibovitz was right. Judeofascists.

  8. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    October 28, 2018, 1:49 pm

    Netanyahu is a nationalist aka Jewish supremacist. Trump is a nationalist aka white supremacist. Nationalism is not good for Jews.

    • eljay
      eljay
      October 28, 2018, 2:19 pm

      || Maghlawatan: Netanyahu is a nationalist aka Jewish supremacist. Trump is a nationalist aka white supremacist. … ||

      Trump might actually believe that America is for all Americans.

      Bibi has made it exceedingly clear that Israel is for all Jews, not for all Israelis.

      As far as being a supremacist goes, IMO Bibi easily trumps Trump.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        October 28, 2018, 2:26 pm

        Israel is too crap to be represented by supremacists

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