Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, is so essential

Israel's National State Law--For Good and for All

By —— Bio and Archives--August 21, 2018

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Israel's National State Law--For Good and for All
I wrote an article that was distributed on the social media in which I touched on the recently approved Nation-State Law that brought with it some controversy in Israel and abroad. I was asked to elucidate the details of this new law and the nuances that have caused discussion and some protest.

Much emotional rhetoric has been heard over the recently approved National State Law in Israel. Protests have accompanied hysteria that las left many open-minded people confused about what actually happened in Israel.


Saeb Erekat, the PLO Secretary General, announced that the Palestinian Authority was considering filing a complaint with the United Nations General Assembly to rescind Israel’s membership. Why not? It seems that the PA runs to the UN every week in an effort to dislodge Israel from UN forums.

He and his boss, Mahmoud Abbas want to world to know that the law is a reconfirmation of Israel as an apartheid state undermining any chance of a two-state solution.

They ignore, of course, the Palestinian Authority’s complete and unrepentant rejection to any Jewish presence in a future Palestinian state. According to their twisted sense of logic, this is neither racist, nor an obstacle to peace. Nor is the constant drumbeat of referring to Israelis as “the Jews,” while protesting Israel’s right to define itself as a Jewish state. Go figure!

Arab members of the Knesset took the PA cue and also referred to the new law as “apartheid.”

Turkish dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, went further. This shining example of democracy and peace said that Israel is an heir to Nazi Germany. The American Jewish leadership echoed the New York Times line that the passing of this law is evidence that Israel is on the verge of rejecting democracy.

They are upset that the law refers to Jewish settlement as “a national value,” as if that was a sin against humanity. They conveniently forget that Israel was the Jewish state for 70 years before this bill was passed. Even before that, in 1920, the League of Nations decreed in their Mandate for Palestine that the British mandatory government must encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land.”  That is how Petah Tikva, Rishon le Zion, Rosh Pina, and later Netanya, Hadera, Modiin, Beer Sheba, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ariel, Maale Adumim and so many other towns and cities were created, by close Jewish settlement on the land. This was not racist, nor apartheid. It was a fulfillment of legitimately sanctioned authority and a historic right to Jewish self-determination in our ancient land.

They also forget that the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a partition of Palestine into two states—an “Arab state” and a “Jewish State.”

According to many, both sides got precisely that. The Arabs got Jordan and the Jews got Israel. The battles and the violence that have occurred since the UN Partition vote were never over the Jews claiming Jordan, but of the Arabs claiming Israel as Palestine. Nothing has happened to bring Israel’s enemies round to accept the right of Jewish self-determination and governance in their ancient land according to historical precedents and international legitimacy.

The early Zionists thought that by establishing Jewish settlements on land legally purchased and developed by back-breaking labour, they would create an undisputed sovereignty of the land of Israel in the historical homeland of the Jewish people that would protect the status of Jewish state from malevolent adversaries wishing to destroy it. They were wrong. Dark forces bent on removing the Jewish presence would intensify their campaign to deny its right to exist. That is why the approval of the Nation-State Law was necessary. It was also an act of defiance.

It did not, however, stop the attacks against Israel. It intensified them. But the passing of the law is another example of the stick-necked Zionists and the Israeli “screw you” attitude.

The verbal change of the left wing Zionist Union Knesset members in the matter of the Nation State Law is hypocritical and smacks of cynical politics. Back in 2014, the ZU leader, Shelly Yacimovich MK, wrote to the drafter of the bill, Av Dichter from the then Kadema Party, that she could see nothing objectionable in the bill, emphasizing that she could see no purpose in the new law given that it repeated what had already passed into law in previous Basic Law bills.  Yet, a week before the new law was approved, the same Yacimovich did an about turn calling the law as “racist” and“xenophobic” when the recently approved law was a watered down version than the one presented to her four years earlier! Again, go figure.

Another Zionist Union leader, Tzipi Livni, was another one who condemned a law she once supported.

How can they belong to a Zionist Union party when they have a problem with the basic principle and national value of the historic and essential Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel?  If it wasn’t, Israel would never have been established as the national homeland of the Jewish people in the first place. Perhaps it’s time for Yacimovich, Livni, and others to change the name of their party, because they are rewriting Zionism into something it isn’t.

It seems that the new Nation-State Law is troubling to the American Jewish leadership, particularly that part of the leadership on the American left. They seem sensitive about the Jewish character of Israel. They seem to think that the terms of the law are “a dangerous check on Israel’s democratic principles.”  No, they are not.

Let’s be honest here. Nothing in this bill changes the status of Israel, it’s majority, nor does it affect that status of its minority citizens. Nor is there anything different in this new Basic Law to the principles that have been established since Israel’s Declaration of Independence and legalized in previous Basic Laws. In short, the Nation-State Law changes nothing.

What has changed, however, has been the drift of progressive (some would say “regressive”) American Jews way from traditional Judaism and, in the growing radical left of the Democratic Party, a move from Zionism to post-Zionism and, more recently into outright anti-Zionism. All this happened way before the passing of the Nation-State Law, and many researchers connect the dots between the move away from traditional Judaism and Israel into a Socialist secular religion of Tikun Olam and an anti-Israelism.

Israel is under attack both at home and abroad and the Nation-State Law is an important bastion in defining the ancient and modern rights of the Jewish people to define their self-determination in their own land. A part of that is protecting Israel’s Jewish character. This is defined in the law by naming the Land of Israel as “the historical homeland of the Jewish people in which the State of Israel was established.” The national flag is the blue-and-white Star of David, the national symbol is the ancient seven-branched Menorah, which stood in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, with the additional olive branches on either side, and Hatikvah as our official national anthem. A unified Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and the law also declares that “the state will be open to Jewish immigration and to the ingathering of the exiles” with its echo from the Jewish Bible. The official language of Israel is Hebrew, though Arabic is granted a“special status.”

Let me confirm here that the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel explicitly confirms the establishment of a Jewish state for the People of Israel in the Land of Israel, the openness of the state to Jewish immigration, the complete equality of social and political rights for all its citizens of all religions, origins and genders, the freedom of religion. This document also calls on Israeli Arabs to take part in building the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and appropriate representation in state institutions.

The Arab Knesset members scream that this is a form of racism. Where have they been for a hundred years? They have been promoting the agenda of a Palestine “from the river to the sea,”that’s where they have been. They are upset that Israel grants the Arabic language a special status and not an official Language. There are more Arabic-speaking citizens in France than in Israel. This is not unusual given France’s intimate history in Arab lands. But, France does not grant their Arabic citizen’s language any special status.

There is something more troubling about the behavior and intent of several Arab Members of the Knesset. Rather than work to integrate their Arab constituents into Israeli society and improve their social-economic standards they are busy fomenting friction with the fiction of being Palestinian Arabs in support of the wider Palestinian movement. This begs the question. Are they Palestinians or Israeli Arabs? We have yet to get an unequivocal answer from them. As for the Palestinian “movement,” rather than promote the ingathering of a people into their own state, they foster and foment the notion of refugee-hood to remain in place until millions of Palestinians can be“returned” to their homes in “occupied Palestine” meaning the land “occupied” by Israel.

Some complain that the words “equal” and “democratic” do not appear in the language of the new law, but this is superfluous because these values are enshrined in previously approved Basic Laws and do not require further endorsement in the Nation-State Law. Indeed, the 1948 Declaration of Independence ensures“complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex.”

It has to be added that with equal rights comes equal obligations. The Druze community are concerned about the implications of the Nation-State bill. Israeli Druze are respected within Israel for their courageous service and sacrifice in the IDF. Without doubt they are brave fighters serving in some of the frontline units. I have told my Druze friends that I consider them more dedicated Israelis than many Jews who have never undertaken any form of national service. This includes the Haredi community in Israel. I have more respect for our Druze and Aramean brethren than I do for those who live in their shtetl, expect to receive handouts paid by taxpayers yet who do little to serve the country, in hospitals and social welfare services if not in the army. The same has to be said of much of Israel’s Arab community who do not serve in the army and also boycott any form of compulsory national service. With the demand for equal rights comes equal national service. 

But maybe there are those who do live here but do not want to see themselves as Israeli, but as Palestinians impatient for their liberation from the Jewish occupation of their land.

The noisy objection to the Nation-State Law has been the dog fight by the left who are now being exposed for adopting a hypocritical, even farcical, position on the issue. They support the Druze protesters. They also join a large Arab constituency with other motives.

At a protest gathering in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, organized and led by the Arab communities in Israel, many Jewish left-wing opponents of the Nation State Law, including several cultural celebrities, were seen chanting against a background of Palestinian flags. They were chanting some vague slogans about justice and equality. While they were doing so the Palestinian flag holders were shouting “With blood and fire we will redeem Palestine.”

As one astute person put it at the sight of Israelis joining Palestinian flag wavers chanting for an end to Israel, “Rabin must be turning in his grave.”

This prompted Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to declare,

“Yesterday we saw PLO flags in the heart of Tel Aviv. Many of the demonstrators want to abrogate the Law of Return, cancel the national anthem, fold up our flag and cancel Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. It is for precisely this that we passed the nation-state law. We are proud of our state, our flag and our national anthem. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. The individual rights of its citizens are anchored very well in the basic laws and other laws. Now it is clearer than ever that the nation-state law is also necessary… to ensure the future of the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.”

Left-wing peace activists have, for decades, called for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria on the basis of insisting that this is the only way that Israel can maintain itself as a legitimate Jewish and democratic state. Only by withdrawing Jews from Judea and Samaria into their approved boundaries of Israel can we preserve Israel’s Jewishness. This is so important to them that they are willing to drag over 200,000 Jews from their homes and surrender Jewish historic and religious sites to the Palestinian cause. And yet, they are the ones who are now calling the Nation-State Law “racist, “discriminatory against our Arab minority,” “radical nationalism,” and other baseless names.

To paraphrase David Weinberg in his Jerusalem Post column“Hypocrisy and Hysteria,” they profess loyalty to Israel as a Jewish nation-state by asserting political pressure for the compulsory evacuation of Jews living in our heartland, but balk at supporting the very bill that defines the character and symbolism of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

This is another reason why the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, is so essential. With the cynicism, the hypocrisy, the panic, and the hysteria, it is so important to remind ourselves that nothing has changed with the passage of this new bill except to confirm the Jewish character of the Jewish State into law.

Israel is a vibrant democracy that protects its minorities. It always has and always will.


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Barry Shaw -- Bio and Archives | Comments

My opinion was formed from living in Israel, witnessing the horror of terror, reading the misinformation and downright lies perpetrated by the Western media, seen the incompetence of Israeli leaders to project the facts. My website comes from a particularly personal perspective. The articles may be controversial and provocative. For whatever strikes Israel today will surely visit you tomorrow.

Barry Shaw is the author of Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’


Barry is the author of ISRAEL - RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE which is available at Israelnarrative.com” or at Amazon Kindle.

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