(August 1, 2018 / JNS) 1. Is the nation-state law a declaration of independence by the majority in Israel against a years long attempt to dictate the identity of Israel and its laws, via an unelected minority in the Supreme Court and the people in the media and academia who declare themselves responsible for setting the tone? Let’s hope so. Time will tell. According to the hysteria that the Left creates using its endless mouthpieces, it appears that we have hit the bullseye: the battle for the State of Israel’s Jewish identity. Some among us thought that after 2,000 years, they’d be able to establish a European country whose Jewishness was expressed only by the people living here. But a people who has been around for thousands of years cannot escape its identity and its focus on it.
2. I still haven’t heard even one serious argument against Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People—only curses, invective, and childish clichés, not to mention of course tears and hurt feelings. Dear readers, read the full version of the law. (It’s short.) It’s the best serum for inoculation against media propaganda.
The nation-state law protects Israel from the risk of it becoming a binational state as well as from the direction in which former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak was pushing it, what is known formally as “a state of all its citizens,” but in effect means “a state of all its nations.” If it weren’t for this law, at the end of the current process, the Arab citizens of Israel would demand national autonomy. They already are, but without the nation-state law, the path would have been cleared for them.
3. There is no attack here on individual rights or civil rights. In Israel, everyone is equal before the law. But the nation-state law is different; it is part of an entirety that will be expressed in a future constitution, so it addresses nothing other than the issue of nationality. When it comes to this, there is no equality. In the State of Israel, there is room for only one national identity: that of the Jewish people. The nation-state law belongs to the same family of laws as the Law of Return. “Apartheid,” a veteran reporter tweeted on Monday about the nation-state law. According to that logic, the Law of Return is apartheid, too (and I’m familiar with the legal figure eights the left performs to justify the Law of Return). Oh, the shame!
4. What we have here isn’t racism (and may the mouths of those who call it that fill with dust). Rather, it is the simple and natural right of the Jewish people to their only national state in the world. Anyone who opposes that is racist because he does not accept the right of the Jewish people to exclusive self-determination, whereas he has no problem supporting a Judenrein Palestinian state. On the fringes of the opposition to the nation-state law there is also a denial that Jews are a people and a nation. Article 19 of the PLO charter determines that the Jews are a religion, not a people, and therefore have no right to a country of their own. Do you understand who else is in the boat with the opponents of the law?
5. The nation-state law must not be touched or changed, but I am in favor of a special law that would benefit the Druze and other minorities who are blood allies of the Jewish people. For years, I’ve been pushing to allocate more funds to their communities than to Jewish ones. But the nation-state law has nothing to do with all that; it is about the question of Israel’s Jewish nationality. The Druze have no national aspirations or any desire for an independent state. Therefore, the nation-state law doesn’t affect them. Anyone saying that the rights of minorities have been harmed even one iota is lying. Incidentally, only the Jewish state will protect the civil and human rights of the minorities living in it. One need only glance around the region to realize that. The people who object to the nation-state law need to decide who their leader is. Is it Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List?
6. The raging dispute over the nation-state law blows a debate that has been quashed and suppressed in public discourse for years wide open—Judaism not as a religion, but as a civilization, and the central responsibility of Israel for its continued existence. This is what the law protects. Minorities in Israel have the right to live in this great civilization that has placed a wealth of treasures of knowledge, wisdom and ancient texts at its disposal—a legacy the like of which no other civilization has left its descendants. We are offering it to the world, but to continue flourishing in cultural and religious terms, as well, we have an obligation to defend our national home. We swore enough oaths to do so in the Diaspora, another reason why we now have the law.
Dror Eydar is a columnist for Israel Hayom, whose English-language content is distributed in the United States exclusively by JNS.