Basic Law Amendment ‘Inspired’ By Declaration of Independence

There is no contradiction between proposed amendment to Israeli Basic Law, which affirms state’s Jewish identity, and its democratic values.

By Rachel Hirshfeld, INN

There is no contradiction between the proposed amendment to the Israeli Basic Law —which affirms the state of Israel’s Jewish identity— and the country’s democratic value system, said a representative of the Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS).

The proposed amendment to the Israeli Basic Law, which seeks to uphold the essence of the Land of Israel as “the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the birthplace of the State of Israel” is not a novel idea, but was “inspired by the Israeli Declaration of Independence”, said Adi Arbel, project manager for the IZS.

Commenting on the initiative revealed Monday by Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beitenu), Arbel maintained that the concepts of a Jewish state and a democratic state are not antithetical, but rather affirm the original intent behind the Declaration of Independence, as initially proposed by first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

The new bill amends a previous version introduced by former Kadima MP Avi Dichter in November 2011 which similarly declared Israel “the national home of the Jewish People, wherein the Jewish People fulfills its aspiration for self-determination in accordance with its historical and cultural heritage.”

“This is a Jewish state that’s a democracy, not a democracy with some Jewish elements,” said MK Levin, commenting Monday on the proposal. “We need to strengthen these principles, and give them legal priority,” he maintained.

The bill calls for Jewish tradition to be the guiding force behind laws and court rulings, granting priority to the inherent Jewish character of the country.

It further establishes Hebrew as the official national language, but allows the Knesset the ability to grant secondary status to other commonly used languages.

There are currently eleven Israeli basic laws, said Arbel, noting that 9 of the 11 attest to Israel’s democratic nature. None of the laws, however, have yet sought to safeguard the state’s Jewish character and identity, he said.

In the founding years of the state there was a great deal of deliberation as to whether Israel should implement a British-inspired legal system which would not contain a formal constitution, as proposed by David Ben-Gurion, or whether writing a formal constitution would be an imperative step in maintaining the fledgling democracy, as advocated by the leader of the opposition Herut party and Zionist visionary, Menachem Begin.

In 1950 the Knesset arrived at a compromise and accepted the Harari Decision, which stipulated that rather than drafting a comprehensive Constitution, it would write chapters in various stages and later compile them into an inclusive document.

Known as the Israeli Basic Laws, the Knesset passed nine laws that dealt with the structure and authority of the government during the fist decades of the state. In 1992, however, the Knesset passed “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” and “Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation”, which for the first time dealt with human rights.

These laws vastly expanded the power of the Israeli judiciary to impede legislation that it claims conflicts with the principles articulated in the two Basic Laws.

Since then, the Supreme Court, under the auspices of Justice Aharon Barak, has sought to create a paradigm in which Israel’s Jewish nature and democratic nature are diametrically opposed, said Arbel.

The state’s Jewish identity does not undermine its democratic value system, nor does its democratic value system impede its Jewish growth, Arbel explained. The two ideals are not only completely compatible, but are inspired by the vision and foresight of the founding Zionist leaders to safeguard their original intent of securing a Jewish and democratic homeland, he said.

May 29, 2013 | 7 Comments »

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7 Comments / 7 Comments

  1. @ NormanF:
    I think we need to check what you say

    “Netanyahu opposes the proposal”

    because the Likud is proposing this new provision proposal to the Basic Law.

    Does anyone have a direct quote from Bibi in regards to this?

  2. NormanF Said:

    Some good news – want to know what makes the US REALLY angry? No – its not the mass slaughter of Arabs in Syria! Its Israel’s building 300 new homes for Jews in Jerusalem’s Ramat neighborhood:

    Then they will destroy Amona and say, “See? We Israelis are actively pursuing peace.” And America will be appeased – till next time. Sacrifice.

  3. @ Shy Guy:
    & @Yamit82:

    Some good news – want to know what makes the US REALLY angry? No – its not the mass slaughter of Arabs in Syria! Its Israel’s building 300 new homes for Jews in Jerusalem’s Ramat neighborhood:

    Oy vey! There are plenty of things for the White House to get teed up about – but its beyond chutzpah to insinuate a single Arab would be injured or killed because Jews would move into new apartments in Jerusalem. Apparently Obama believes Jews do NOT have the right to build and live in Jerusalem without his permission! There is a term for that.

  4. @ Shy Guy:

    Shy Guy, don’t blame the Military Appeals Court.

    Blame the government for its criminal deal with the PA – somehow it put him on the list of the terrorists to be released.

    Stupid Jews!

  5. A terrorist who hunted Hebrew University students will be released –
    because he went on hunger-strike

    RELEASED: Fatah terrorist murderer
    He dispatched suicide terrorist to Coffee Shop in Tel Aviv in 2002, murdering Rachel Cherki and wounding thirty more victims An Israeli Military Court of Appeals this week inexplicably annulled his sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment .,7340,L-4376978,00.html,

    Amona wrote to Mattot Arim this week to warn everybody
    that the entire Amona community – 40 families, 200 children,
    vineyards, fields, businesses, school and kindergarten –
    is to be razed in 2 months time.
    Yes, that is right. We received this notification on 27 May at 17:59 pm.
    Check your newspaper because you really should have heard about this first from Naftali Bennett who is an elected official
    rather than from a part-time organization of after-work volunteers like Mattot Arim

    MUST SEE – Firebombs And Rocks Hurled On Israeli Cars
    Children and toddlers with severe neurological damage – like Baby Adella
    What is being done?

    Finally, here’s where the Government DOES
    take diligent action “for security” –

    Are you concerned about the Government’s handling
    of all the above crucial topics?

    Just forward this whole email right to them –
    an entire paragraph of Minister and Knesset Member email addresses
    appears above, between the Hebrew and the English
    If you want, even add a few words of your own explaining how you feel.
    Please give YOUR friends and relatives an opportunity to weigh in on this: Send this email to them too

    Of course, please let us know (
    if any public figure writes back to you

    Thanks for caring
    from Mattot Arim

    Our blog:

  6. The Israeli Left does not want Zionism entrenched as a constitutional principle. Netanyahu opposes the proposal because it would limit his freedom of maneuver. For different reasons, a Basic Law defining the Jewish character of the state and establishing Hebrew as the sole official language – is not going to become law any time soon.