Israel to vote on Bill making it a “Jewish State,” demoting Arabic

Ma’an News Agency | – –

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli cabinet committee approved a contested bill on Sunday seeking to enshrine Israel’s status as a Jewish state into the country’s central legislation, sparking concern the heightened discrimination Palestinians would face should it become law.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted unanimously to move the “Jewish State” bill — which is also being referred to as the “Nationality” or “Nation State” bill — to a preliminary vote in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

The bill declares that Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people,” and that “the right to realize self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

It would also revoke Arabic’s status as an official state language, despite 20 percent of Israeli citizens being Palestinians, downgrading it to “special status in the state” while stating that “its speakers have the right to language-accessible state services.”

Meanwhile, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that other sections of the bill addressed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, illegal Jewish settlements, the status of holy sites, and non-Israeli Jews’ right to obtain Israeli nationality.

The bill states that “every resident of Israel, without distinction of religion or national origin, is entitled to work to preserve his culture, heritage, language and identity,” while affirming that “the state may allow a community, including members of the same religion or national origin, to have separate communal settlements.”

Proponents of the bill aim to have it pass into Israel’s Basic Law — the body of legislation which effectively stands as Israel’s constitution.

Bills need to go through three rounds of votes in the Knesset before they can become law.

Knesset member Avi Dichter, who first proposed the legislation, hailed the bill as “critical” given Palestinian and international opposition to Israel for its violations of international law, framing such condemnations of Israel as anti-Jewish sentiment.

“The Palestinian aspiration to eliminate the Jewish people’s nation-state is no longer secret,” Ynet quoted him as saying. “The State of Israel, which demands of its enemies to recognize it as the nation-state of the Jewish people and justifiably asks its supporters in the world to back this demand, needs to be able to declare in its highest legislative level that it proudly maintains this identity.”

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Arab Joint List, a coalition of political parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel, denounced the bill on social media as “crushing the rights of minorities.”

“This Nationality bill is the tyranny of the majority, turning us into second-class citizens, and this time making it legal,” Odeh said.

Haaretz quoted Zehava Galon, the chairwoman of the left-wing Zionist Meretz party, as saying that the bill amounted to “a declaration of war against Israel’s Arab citizens and against Israel as a democratic and properly governed society,” using the Israeli term for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Israel and its supporters have long claimed that Israel’s insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state was not different from other countries’ national identities, without elaborating on how the enactment of policies to maintain and privilege a Jewish national religious identity was compatible with equal rights for all people under Israeli civilian and military rule regardless of religion.

Rights organization Adalah has tallied at least 76 Israeli laws that already discriminate between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Palestinian communities in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem have long been targeted by discriminatory Israeli policies, whether through “divide and conquer” tactics, attempts at forcibly displacing Bedouin communities, zoning policies at the expense of Palestinian-Israeli communities, and what has been denounced as a policy of “Judaization” of Jerusalem at the expense of other religious communities.

Via Ma’an News Agency


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Middle East Monitor: “Explained: Palestinian citizens of Israel”

5 Responses

  1. … and then we watch them turn themselves inside out explaining how this does NOT amount to the creation of a theocratic state.

  2. Golda Meir, 1969-1974

    “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”
    Statement to The Sunday Times, June 15, 1969.

    “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.”
    March 8, 1969.

    “Anyone who speaks in favour of bringing the Arab refugees back must also say how he expects to take the responsibility for it, if he is interested in the state of Israel. It is better that things are stated clearly and plainly: We shall not let this happen.”
    1961, in a speech to the Knesset, reported in Ner, October 1961

    “This country exists as the fulfilment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.”
    Octobre 15, 1971, Le Monde


    Yitzhak Rabin, 1974-1977, 1992-1995

    “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, ‘What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out’.”
    Leaked, censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in The New York Times, October 23 1979.

    “[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat.”
    Rabin, a ‘Prince of Peace’ by Clinton’s standards, explaining his method of ethnically cleansing the occupied land without stirring a world outcry, quoted in David Shipler in The New York Times, April 4, 1983 citing Meir Cohen’s remarks to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee on March 16.


    Menachem Begin, 1977-1983

    “[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.”
    Speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, ‘Begin and the ‘Beasts’,’ New Statesman, June 25, 1982.

    Yitzhak Shamir, 1983-1984, 1986-1992

    “The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliyah (Jewish immigration), and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country.”
    At a Tel Aviv memorial service for former Likud leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio Service.

    “The settlement of the Land of Israel is the essence of Zionism. Without settlement, we will not fulfil Zionism. It’s that simple.”
    Maariv, February 21, 1997.

    “[The Palestinians] would be crushed like grasshoppers… heads smashed against the boulders and walls.”
    In a speech to Jewish settlers, New York Times, April 1, 1988

  3. … The law now defines Israel as a Jewish state or state for all Jews.

    This law automatically renders non-Jews, e.g. Muslims and Christians who constitute nearly a quarter of Israel’s total population, as second-class citizens, or worse.

    And to deceive the world, the definition also incorporates the word “democratic” into the definition of Israel.
    However, it is very clear that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic since this constitutes a clear contradiction in terms.

    According to data published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 6.1 million Palestinians lived in historic Palestine (between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean) by the end of 2014, and this number is expected to rise to 7.1 million by the end of 2020 based on current growth rates.

    This is certainly bad news for Israel and Zionism. It means that Palestinians are either already a numerical majority or going to be a majority in a few years. It is well known that Israel is not going to allow the Zionist enterprise to fall down before its eyes. But Israel’s choices are limited and utterly unattractive.

    Israel is really at loss as to what to do to prevent the Palestinians from becoming a solid majority in Israel/Palestine, and most observers would agree that time is not on Zionism’s side…

  4. Sorry, do I understand this correctly: Netanyahu has spent nearly a decade insisting that the PLO recognise Israel as “the Jewish state”, yet To This Very Day the state of Israel has not defined itself as such?

    Doesn’t that mean that Netanyahu’s no-conditions-precondition amounts to a classic case of him insisting on hitching the cart before the horse?

    Or, perhaps better, of Netanyahu insisting that Abbas does as he says, not as he does.

    The man is beyond chutzpah….

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