Declaring Israel A “Nation-State of the Jewish People” ✡️
A new distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens
Israeli lawmakers passed a bill declaring that the right of national self-determination is “unique to the Jewish people” - not all Israelis. The declaration is a major departure from Israel’s founding document which ensured “complete equality of social and political rights” for “all its inhabitants” no matter their religion, race or sex.
TBD on impact
The major implications of the bill are not immediately clear - but many fear the far-right government is gearing up to strip non-Jewish citizens of some rights. The bill will have some immediate effects: it removes Arabic as an official national language and promotes the development of Jewish-only communities within Israel.
Against The Bill
Al Jazeera: Five ways Israeli law discriminates against Palestinians
Jerusalem Post: Nation-state bill strikes blow to minorities
For The Bill
Wall Street Journal: Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State
Breitbart: Netanyahu Hails Jewish State Bill as ‘Pivotal Moment’ in Zionist History
Outlets against the bill view the declaration as a movement toward apartheid in Israel; they see a future where Jewish people have full rights and non-Jewish people have limited rights. Articles point to judicial rulings that have protected the rights of non-Jewish citizens as the real motivation for the law. This new language in the Israeli constitution could be used to sidestep court rulings and strip non-Jewish Israelis of their rights.
Outlets in favor of the bill view this declaration as a recognition of the reality of Israel: it is a nation for the Jewish people. Hebrew ought to be its sole national language and the Jewish people ought to decide the future of the state, articles argue. They note that the language in the bill does not take away any rights from non-Jewish Israelis and similar “nationhood” provisions exist without controversy in some European countries (Slovakia and Lithuania, for instance).
Is apartheid coming to Isreal?
The bill really is mostly symbolic and does not immediately take rights away from non-Jewish Israelis. But it could be a step in that direction - it is possible that the Israeli government will use this new law to justify taking rights from non-Jews. The law will undoubtedly do two things: (1) inflame the 20% of Israel’s population that is not Jewish, and (2) alienate Israeli’s democratic allies who are concerned for the future status of non-Jewish Israelis and Palestinians.
Would Jon Stewart make the cut?
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