Sha­ran­sky asks MKs to hear from Di­as­pora Jews on na­tion-state bill

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By GIL HOFF­MAN

Out­go­ing Jewish Agency chair­man Natan Sha­ran­sky urged mem­bers of the com­mit­tee leg­is­lat­ing the con­tro­ver­sial Jewish na­tion-state bill to lis­ten to Di­as­pora Jews be­fore vot­ing on the bill, plead­ing with com­mit­tee chair­man Amir Ohana (Likud) to in­vite rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Di­as­pora Jewry to give their per­spec­tive be­fore the fi­nal ver­sion of the bill is drafted.

Sha­ran­sky ex­pressed con­cern about a front-page Jerusalem Post re­port about a deal the Likud made with United Torah Ju­daism that changed a clause in the bill about the Di­as­pora. The old ver­sion of the bill said “the state will take ac­tion to main­tain the con­nec­tion be­tween the state and the Jewish peo­ple wher­ever they are.” The new ver­sion re­leased Mon­day re­placed “wher­ever they are” with “in the Di­as­pora.”

UTJ MKs said they re­quested the change, be­cause they did not want the state to help Di­as­pora Jews ad­vance reli­gious plu­ral­ism in Is­rael in gen­eral and at the Western Wall in par­tic­u­lar.

“The State of Is­rael is the na­tional home of the en­tire Jewish peo­ple, and it is clear to me that there is no dis­pute about that among the par­ties,” Sha­ran­sky wrote the MKs on Wed­nes­day. “The na­tion-state bill was ini­tially in­tended to strengthen this prin­ci­ple.” But re­cent changes made to the bill have caused great wor­ries, be­cause they drove a wedge among the sec­tors of the na­tion in Is­rael and the Di­as­pora.”

Sha­ran­sky said he was dis­ap­pointed that the changes in the bill have added to an al­ready ex­ist­ing dis­pute over the place of reli­gious streams in the pub­lic sphere.

“I call upon the mem­bers of the com­mit­tee to take the is­sue to heart and do what­ever they can to pre­vent a fur­ther rift in the na­tion,” he wrote, adding that other clauses in the bill also made it harder for Di­as­pora Jews to de­fend Is­rael.

Sha­ran­sky com­plained that the Knes­set had passed other bills re­cently that were in­tended to fight ef­forts to boy­cott Is­rael, but were drafted and passed with­out ask­ing those in the Di­as­pora who lead those bat­tles ev­ery day.

One of the is­sues Sha­ran­sky sin­gled out in the bill is the down­grad­ing of Ara­bic from the sta­tus of an of­fi­cial lan­guage along­side He­brew.

The Joint List pre­sented an “al­ter­na­tive na­tion-state bill Wed­nes­day that would keep Ara­bic as an of­fi­cial lan­guage and would change the state’s sym­bols to re­flect both its Jewish and Arab pop­u­la­tions.

“The State of Is­rael is the state shared by all its cit­i­zens, and all its in­sti­tu­tions and re­sources will fully and equally serve all the cit­i­zens,” the Joint List ver­sion said.

The Joint List’s ver­sion was en­dorsed by MKs Mossy Raz and Isawi Frej of Meretz and Zion­ist Union MK Zo­heir Ba­halul.

(Marc Is­rael Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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