19 Is­rael Rad­i­cally Al­ters Its Con­sti­tu­tion with New Law

Trillions - - Contents -

Is­rael has passed a new law which crit­ics say com­pletely turns its back on the demo­cratic prin­ci­ples set in the orig­i­nal “Dec­la­ra­tion of the Es­tab­lish­ment of the State of Is­rael” passed in 1948 and for­mal­izes it as a coun­try only for Jews.

The law, which passed July 18 in the Knes­set by a vote of 62 to 55, of­fi­cially lim­its the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion to Jews. De­spite protes­ta­tions of the gov­ern­ment to the con­trary, it also down­grades the sta­tus of Arab lan­guages. Now He­brew is the only of­fi­cial state lan­guage.

Un­der the bill, which has the sta­tus of what is called a ba­sic law – like a con­sti­tu­tional law in other coun­tries, “the right to ex­er­cise na­tional de­ter­mi­na­tion in the State of Is­rael is unique to the Jewish peo­ple”. It fur­ther de­fines a se­ries of main prin­ci­ples to stand as the core of the Is­raeli state, in­clud­ing the flag, the na­tional an­them, the coun­try’s cap­i­tal and its lan­guage.

The bill fur­ther for­mally pro­motes the “es­tab­lish­ment and con­sol­i­da­tion” of Jewish set­tle­ments on Pales­tinian land.

With the law in place, it of­fi­cially sets any non-jews liv­ing within the coun­try as sec­ond-class cit­i­zens in one way or an­other. Crit­ics are call­ing it no less a trav­esty for the coun­try than the con­cept of apartheid was in South Africa.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu praised the law’s pas­sage as a ma­jor mile­stone for the coun­try. “With this law we de­ter­mined the found­ing prin­ci­ple of our ex­is­tence,” he said as quoted in Haaretz. “Is­rael is the na­tion state of the Jewish peo­ple.”

As the law was passed, crit­ics called what hap­pened a gross be­trayal of Is­rael’s found­ing 1948 Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence. In that doc­u­ment, which the world ap­plauded af­ter the hor­rific treat­ment of the Jewish peo­ple dur­ing World War II and be­fore, the brand-new gov­ern­ment called for a so­ci­ety de­signed to “fos­ter the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try to the ben­e­fit of all its in­hab­i­tants”. It went on to say that the new gov­ern­ment “will be based on free­dom, jus­tice and peace as en­vis­aged by the prophets of Is­rael; it will en­sure com­plete equal­ity of so­cial and po­lit­i­cal rights to all its in­hab­i­tants ir­re­spec­tive of re­li­gion, race or sex; it will guar­an­tee free­dom of re­li­gion con­science, lan­guage, ed­u­ca­tion and cul­ture; it will safe­guard the Holy Places of all re­li­gions; and it will be faith­ful to the prin­ci­ples of the Char­ter of the United Na­tions”.

Arab MPS present at the vot­ing were vis­i­bly an­gry. They de­stroyed their copies of the bill right af­ter it was passed and stormed out of the cham­ber. “You passed an apartheid law, a racist law,” said MPS Ahmed Tibi and Ayeda Touma-souli­man from the Joint List, a coali­tion of Arab-dom­i­nated par­ties in the Is­raeli Par­lia­ment. Tibi slammed the laws pas­sage with the words, “I an­nounce with shock and sor­row the death of democ­racy.”

The Arab rep­re­sen­ta­tives were not the only ones reg­is­ter­ing their com­plaints. Prior to the bill’s pas­sage, 14 Amer­i­can Jewish or­ga­ni­za­tions had sent their con­cerns to the in­com­ing Jewish Agency Chair­man Isaac Her­zog. Her­zog had ex­pressed ma­jor con­cerns that “the fine bal­ance be­tween a Jewish and demo­cratic state” would be hurt.

Ac­cord­ing to Is­rael's Cen­tral Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics, only 74.5% of the 8,855,000 in­hab­i­tants of Is­rael and oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries are Jewish, which leaves over 2 mil­lion non-jewish tar­gets for abuse by Jews.

With this new law in place, the pre­tense that Is­rael is a democ­racy and not an op­pres­sive Jewish state is gone. The ques­tion is what Is­rael's non-jews and the rest of world will do about it.

Im­age by Den­nis Jarvis, CC

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.