Israel’s New Nation-State Law, and Why It Has Nothing To Do With Racism

There’s much gnashing of teeth over Israel’s new law enshrining the status of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people

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July 18, 2018. Mark the date, because on this day Israel legislated the new Nation-State Law. 

According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, this was “a ‎defining moment in the annals of Zionism ‎and the ‎history of the State of Israel.”‎ Explaining the need for this “basic law” that carries constitutional powers, Likud MK Avi Dichter, the man behind the bill, wrote that it reinforces “Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people … particularly in times when there are those who seek to annul the right of the Jewish people to a national home in their land, and the recognition of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

Dichter didn’t really need to name those challenging the status of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people since most Israelis don’t have to guess. Dichter was alluding to radical Israeli leftist NGOs like the New Israel Fund, Breaking of the Silence and B’Tselem, all of which are financially supported by European countries and the UN. These NGOs are doing their utmost to turn Israel from a Jewish democracy to just a democracy. What that means is that if they are successful in their efforts, Israel will no longer be recognized as a home and shelter for Jews. If it comes to that, give the region’s demography, Israel could eventually become yet another Muslim Arab country with a persecuted Jewish minority.

Some critics, like Yossi Dahan, head of the Human Rights Division at the College of Law and Business, went so far as to say that this nation-state law is a shrewd right-wing move to enforce “mechanisms of discrimination and racism.” It should be noted that such things are being said despite the fact that an Arab judge sits on the Supreme Court and young Israeli Arabs are receiving free rides at Israeli universities in an effort to boost higher education in the Arab sector.

And if Dahan can accuse Israel of racism, why not the smarmy Independent, which reports without any reservation about Turkish President Erdogan’s vile comparison between Israel under this nation-state law and Nazi Germany. “There’s no difference between Hitler’s obsession with a pure race and the understanding that these ancient lands are just for the Jews,” said the one who butchers Kurds without mercy.

For those who can’t tell the difference between racism and ethnicity, a racist state is one in which a pure blood race sees itself as superior to the minorities living among it. Genuine examples are Nazi Germany and, to an extent, the former government in South Africa. An ethnic state is one in which the majority of the population share a common ancestry, history, religion, tradition, language and culture. Israel is a prime example here. But there is another aspect to Jewish ethnicity that further sets it apart from the racist examples above – the Jewish people claim a divine choseness the primary objective of which is to improve the wellbeing of all humanity.

Jews, as anyone with half a brain knows, have nothing to do with pure blood. If anything, their long history of persecution, including an untold number of rape cases, should have been enough to dispel any notion of race. Furthermore, from the dawn of their history, Jews never really minded marrying non-Jews or receiving converts. King David’s ancestry is enough to make this argument.

It is in light of this difference that the Balfour Declaration could come into being, and it is this declaration, later ratified by the UN, that justifies recognizing Israel as a Jewish home. It is entirely in place, therefore, that following the approval of the nation-state law, Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote the following on his Facebook page: 

“Ninety-six years ago today, on July 24, 1922, the British Mandate was confirmed by the League of Nations. The British Mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration as a binding legal document, one which awarded national rights to the Jewish people – and only the Jewish people – in the Land of Israel. The British Mandate, which expanded upon the Biblical and historical connection of the Jewish people to its land, was later adopted by the United Nations, and until today is a binding document under international law that defines the international legal status of the Land of Israel. In light of this, we enacted the Nation-State Law, which for the first time enshrines, as a Basic Law, the status of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. These are clear historical facts regarding our rights in the Land of Israel. Share this.”

The following are the key components of the Nation-State Law. One has to keep in mind though that basic laws securing the human rights of the individual were legislated back in 1992. In fact, it was the law of “human dignity and freedom” that tipped the balance in favor of those opposing Israel as a Jewish home. The present law seeks to restore balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the community.

  • The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established;
  • The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people;
  • The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people;
  • The state will strive to ensure the safety of the members of the Jewish people in trouble or in captivity due to the fact of their Jewishness or their citizenship;
  • The state shall act within the Diaspora to strengthen the affinity between the state and members of the Jewish people;
  • The state shall act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious heritage of the Jewish people among Jews in the Diaspora.

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