Photo Credit:
Morton A. Klein. President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)

Legislation is under consideration in Jerusalem that formalizes Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. We at the Zionist Organization of America support it.

Why? Because it is historically, legally, politically, and religiously the case that Israel is the Jewish nation state. The Balfour Declaration, later incorporated into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, recognized the historical fact that what later became Israel was indeed the “Jewish homeland.”

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The 1947 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 encompassed the creation of a “Jewish state” and most of the world has called it that ever since its emergence in 1948.

In short, this legislation correctly recognizes that Israel was and is the Jewish state. The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, and every other major Zionist leader from that time forward were dedicated to establishing a Jewish state.

The Jewish homeland in which Israel today thrives and flourishes has been recognized for centuries by Bible-believing Jews and Christians as holy land given to the Jewish people by God.

The land of Israel has been called for centuries the “Promised Land.” Who promised the land and to whom was it promised? In Genesis, it is promised by God to the Jewish people.

It was precisely because this is the Jewish homeland that the Zionist movement turned down proposals of Jewish statehood elsewhere – Uganda, for example.

Zionism is not just about Jewish statehood, it is also about the reconnection of the Jewish people with its biblical and religious homeland. That is why David Ben-Gurion, the Zionist leader and Israel’s first prime minister, told the 1936 Peel Commission that “Our Mandate is the Bible.”

Israel is scarcely alone in describing itself as the state of a particular group, religion, or ethnicity.

In the same region can be found the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite the vicious discrimination against, and persecution of, minorities in these states, no one has said that these states cannot affirm their national identity and purpose. Why then should Israel, the only Middle Eastern country that actually respects and protects minorities, not do so?

No one expects Britain to remove the Union Jack (which features two crosses) from its flag just because its citizenry includes Muslims, Hindus, and Jews.

No one tells Scandinavian countries to remove the crosses that adorn their flags.

And no one has told Muslim majority states to remove the Islamic crescent from their flags.

The flags of over 40 countries possess either the cross or the crescent. Only in the case of Israel’s star do we hear it is unacceptable.

The U.S. pledge of allegiance speaks of “One Nation under God.” Must this be changed in deference to the views of atheists? Should we discard national heritages simply because not every citizen sees his or her own views reflected in them? Of course not.

Importantly, this legislation does not discriminate against Israel’s rich tapestry of minorities. The rights and liberties of Israelis of different religions and ethnicities would remain unaffected by this bill. They will continue to play, as they have been doing, an important role at all levels of Israeli life.

Non-Jewish citizens reside and are welcome in Israel, but the Israeli state – its institutions, laws, flag, and anthem – reflects the history and aspirations of the people who founded it with their labor, resources, and blood.

It is said that this legislation will set back the prospects for peace. This is untrue. Tragically, Palestinian terrorists will continue to try and murder Jews whether or not Israel passes this legislation.

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Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Follow him on Twitter @mortonaklein7.
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