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Myth #1: “Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” is a proposal by Israel’s right-wing parties.

The Basic Law proposal: “Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” was actually first proposed by Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party.

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The bill was initially proposed in 2011 by Kadima MK Avi Dichter.

The majority of the MKs in Tzipi Livni’s left-wing party supported the bill, as did MKs in the left-wing Labor party.

The bill was likely to pass by a wide nonpartisan majority in the Knesset, but Tzipi Livni did not support it, and killed the bill before it came to vote.

Myth #2: The bill will change the laws of Israel and will harm the status and rights of minorities in Israel.

There are actually a few different versions (and revisions) of the law being considered, but ultimately they do the same thing.

The bill is primarily symbolic, defining in law the status of what already exists in Israel – Israel as the Jewish state of the Jewish people, while guaranteeing the rights of all its minorities.

There is an area where it might possibly have a legal effect, and that is in Israel’s Supreme Court.

Myth #3: The Left are against the law because it is anti-democratic.

As mentioned above, the bill was initially introduced by Israel’s left-wing politicians.

But Israel’s radical left want to transform Israel from a “Jewish state” into a “state of all its citizens” and this law would prevent that – hence their very active resistance.

As their goal is against both the will of the people and the country’s Declaration of Independence, the far Left have moved the battle to a front where they have a political advantage, Israel’s Supreme Court, where most of the judges lean politically left to far left.

Some on Israel’s political right hope the law restore the balance between a Jewish state and a democratic state which was unintentionally disrupted when Israel passed the Basic Laws in 1992: Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation and Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

Israel’s judicial activist Supreme Court, led by then Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak, selectively interpreted those Basic Laws, applying his personal, and radical left-wing interpretation of the phrase “Jewish and democratic”, which has since  resulted in democratic laws voted on by the democratically elected Knesset getting struck down, ignored or selectively reinterpreted.

By defining as a Basic law what “Jewish” actually means, some of its proponents hope to plug the hole that allows the Supreme Court to reinterpret laws according to their non-mainstream political ideologies.

Israel’s Supreme Court is considered one of the most judicially activist Supreme Court’s in the world.

Myth #4: Netanyahu is pushing the bill forward because he’s really a right-wing extremist.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is pushing the bill forward right now, not because he wants it passed, but because it serves a practical political goal.

Netanyahu (Likud) is fed up with his coalition partners, Ministers Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), constantly threatening to bring down the coalition.

Both Livni and Lapid have publicly taken positions against the bill.

Netanyahu is forcing his two rebellious ministers to make a decision with this bill – go to elections, or shut up and stop threatening.

The timing is very good for Netanyahu.

In the polls, Netanyahu is doing well, Livni’s party is unlikely to pass the electoral threshold in the upcoming elections, and Lapid’s party will shrink to at least half.

It’s a safe assumption that Netanyahu probably doesn’t care if this law passes or not, just like the conclusions from the Edmund Levy report Netanyahu ordered were never adopted by Netanyahu’s government.

Bottom line: if Livni and Lapid stop their threats, Netanyahu’s threat is likely to disappear too.

Myth #5: The bill will force the Supreme Court to consider the Jewish character of the state when making decisions, and stop the court from striking down Knesset laws the judges ideologically disagree with.

Israel’s Supreme Court activist judges will undoubtedly find a way around this law if not by simply striking it down, so it is hardly the best solution for dealing with the underlying problem of their left-wing judicial activism.

Among the steps that actually would fix that problem is Knesset legislation that changes the way Israeli Supreme Court judges are selected and elected, restrict who can bring cases to the Supreme Court and additional constraints on the court’s powers.

Additionally, laws that better define and constrain the powers and the mandate of other non-elected senior civil servants would be a more effective tool than the Jewish Nation-State law for protecting Israel against those that don’t want it to be a “Jewish” state.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Are they that afraid Jews will treat Arabs the way Arabs treat Jews? Below is a list of countries with an Official Religion. Just another day of Double Standards for Israel.

    Andorra,
    Argentina,
    Armenia,
    Bahamas,
    Belarus,
    Bhutan,
    Bolivia,
    Bulgaria,
    Cambodia,
    Colombia,
    Costa Rica,
    Croatia,
    Denmark,
    Dominican Republic,
    El Salvador,
    Finland,
    Georgia,
    Greece,
    Guatemala,
    Haiti,
    Honduras,
    Iceland,
    Italy,
    Liberia,
    Liechtenstein,
    Luxembourg,
    Macedonia,
    Malta,
    Moldova,
    Monaco,
    Nepal,
    Norway,
    Panama,
    Paraguay,
    Peru.
    Portugal,
    Samoa,
    Spain ,
    Sri Lanka,
    Thailand,
    Tonga,
    Ukraine,
    United Kingdom,
    Vanuatu,
    Venezuela.

  2. I am concerned that limiting the Supreme Court's power is an interference with the judiciary as a whole….minorities DO need protection, to say otherwise places the State of Israel among the pariah States like Uganda…..I hope this is NOT the case because the LGBT community simply would have no basic liberties…..! Frightening thought!

  3. Esteban Sperber Fankel
    You missed the point.
    Israel was voted at the UN 1947 as the state of and for the Jewish people. Israel IS THE JEWISH STATE
    . HEBREW IS THE MAIN LANGUAGE., English and Arabic are recognized as official languages in Israel.

    Just as Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq etc are Islamic states with the laws of the Koran. Yest, they are Arabic states, Arabic being the main language
    The difference is that in those Islamic states, Christians are not regarded as Muslim, but they live in Muslim states.

    In Israel, the Christians, Druze, Bahai, etc are regarded as full Israeli citizens, with NO discrimination.
    One only has to look at the Supreme court, the Hospitals, Universities etc, where Arab Muslims, and Christians have the same rights as do jJws,
    They are NOT discriminated against.
    They hold senior posts in all of Israel.

    ISRAEL IS THE JEWISH STATE OF AND FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE. WITH FULL RIGHTS OF THE MINORITIES.

    THE FACT THAT ARAFAT IN A SUIT, ABBAS, DOES NOT "RECOGNIZE" ISRAEL AS THE JEWISH STATE, IS UNDERSTANDABLE. ABBAS IS TRYING TO DESTROY ISRAEL. HE IS NOTHING! . HE DENIES THE HOLOCAUST. HE FINANCED THE MASSACRE OF THE ISRAELI ATHLETES IN 1972 OLYMPICS.
    BEST FOR THE WORLD TO WAKE UP AND TELL HIM TO SHUT UP.

  4. The problem with the elitist interventionist High Court which shows its contempt for the Knesset and for the majority of the electorate can be solved very simply: the Knesset should enact a law that would allow the Knesset to put aside High Court rulings if the Knesset debates and passes them again by a significant majority, say two-thirds of three-quarters. Israel, like any democracy, must be a land ruled by law, not by lawyers.

  5. WHAT'S TO DISCUSS? THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO?
    CHECK THE DELCRATION OF INDEPENDENCE VERBALIZED BY PM DAVIN BEN GRION AFTER IT WAS VOTED UPON BY THE THE THEN KNESSET WHERE IT IS CALLED THE JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL. AT THE UN AND ALL EMBASSIES AND CONSULARES, THE NAME ON THE PLAQUES NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED TO READ THE JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL AND NO ONE IS ALLOWED OT OBJECT SINCE THEIR IS THE THE ISLAMIC REPUBLICS OF IRAN, EYGPT, ETC.

  6. Not accurate. Many Arab and South American and European states – all with different languages, barring the relative homogeny of the Arab states – have official state religions. The more liberal among them are as devoutly pluralist as they are to their chosen religion, for example Greece or Turkey pre-AKP. The worst examples like Kuwait, make any option except Islam illegal. Therefore, it's common to have a state religion and for that religion to shape the culture of the country. But this is old news in Israel, which has been Jewish State since 1948.

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