Ministerial committee to vote on contentious bill defining Israel as Jewish state

One of the reasons for this bill is to place being Jewish above being democratic so that when issues come before the High Court, it must defer to that ranking. But when they are on an equal footing as currently proposed, the Court can go any way it wants. That’s what it does now. That’s what we wish to stop. Ted Belman


Livni sees bill as problematic, saying she will not be a part of passing a law that puts Israel’s Jewishness before its democratic character

A proposed Basic Law declaring Israel as the Jewish state will be brought to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation Sunday, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s backing.

Netanyahu threw his support behind coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked and Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov’s version of Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, nicknamed the “Nationality Bill” in May, following the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians.

There have been several versions of the bill in recent years, the original being one by former Kadima MK Avi Dichter and MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu), which Elkin recently resubmitted.

The Levin-Shaked-Ilatov bill declares that “the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, where they realize their aspiration for self-determination according to their cultural and historical legacy.”

According to the measure, “the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

Levin and Shaked submitted their bill months after the 19th Knesset was inaugurated in 2013, but Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) blocked it on the grounds that it puts “Jewishness” before democracy.

As such, in what is seen as a gesture to Yesh Atid and Hatnua, the bill going to a vote on Sunday explicitly calls Israel a “Jewish and democratic state,” as opposed to a previous draft that said Israel is a Jewish state with a democratic system of government.

It calls Israel a democratic state “based on the foundations of liberty, justice and peace according to the visions of the prophets of Israel, and committed to the personal rights of all its citizens as detailed in every Basic Law.”

Still, the language mentions personal rights for all citizens – as opposed to national rights – making it clear that only the Jewish people has the right to statehood in the Land of Israel.

Levin explained the necessity of the measure, saying that “the State of Israel is a Jewish state with a democratic system of government, not a country of all its citizens or all its infiltrators, in which Jewish life takes place on the fringes.

“This basic principle, on which the State of Israel was established, is being eroded by High Court rulings, and we need to stop the post-Zionist process by anchoring Israel’s identity and basic values in a Basic Law,” he added.

Ilatov pointed out that Israel’s Jewishness was declared in the first Zionist Congress and in the Independence Scroll, as well as in other official documents, and said the time has come to give it constitutional weight to clearly define Israel’s character.

“Just like there is Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom to establish Israel’s democratic character, we need a Basic Law for its Jewishness,” Shaked explained. “I’m sure we’ll reach a draft [of the bill] that will reflect the consensus in Israeli society about its meaning.”

Levin said he would work to get the broadest consensus possible for the bill, as Netanyahu instructed him to do.

The legislation features sections on the flag, anthem and symbol of Israel, and reinforces the Law of Return.

The bill defines the Land of Israel as “the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the place where the State of Israel is founded,” giving legal status to the historic Land of Israel.

Unlike the Dichter-Elkin version of the bill, this one does not deal with the official status of Arabic.

Another article of the bill could change the situation on the Temple Mount, as it declares that “holy sites will be protected from desecration and from anything preventing free access for all religions who consider the sites holy.”

Livni still saw the bill as problematic Thursday, saying that she will not be a part of passing a law that puts Israel’s Jewishness before its democratic character.

“I won’t let a law that treats democracy like a technical method move forward,” she said. “As long as I am in the government, a law will not pass that puts the national element over the democratic. I won’t give up on either side of the equation.”

Livni expressed hope that she would reach an agreement with Levin, Shaked and Ilatov, but said that it will not happen if the bill “completely twists the State of Israel’s values.”

“The real goal of the bill,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said, “is to push the word ‘Jewish’ forward and push back democracy.”

According to Gal-On, “the clear result of [the bill’s passage] will be that Jews get preference over all other Israeli citizens and the word ‘democracy’ is left there so our allies on the other side of the ocean don’t nag us.”

June 8, 2014 | 16 Comments »

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  1. I must say that reading this, and other articles, where Jews fight the Jewish character of the state and laws that are designed to advance the Jewish cause, it is hard not to become pessimistic as to the future of Israel.
    Everywhere you go in Northamerica, you find yordim. Well educated, not observant but with a strong Jewish identity, who have voted with their feet saying there is no future in Israel. These people, had they stayed in Israel, would have made a terrific contribution to the state, like they do here, but they left.
    I understand them now more than ever. And the more I understand the machinations of the current State of Israel, the more concerned I am about its future and viability. If the politics and security were not bad enough, you have the economy, that while growing, it remains a burden for the overwhelming majority who don’t earn much, are overtaxed and pay exorbitant prices for nearly everything. Never mind the demographic bomb with empowered Arabs walking all over the land, like the true owners of the place!. All these issues sure dampen my desire to ever want to make Aliyah.

  2. I never have been interested in the modern liberal scrapping of the concept of the United States of America as a constitutionally-ruled republic, and replacing that with a vaguely-defined concept of “democracy”. And, as a Jewish nationalist, I have no interest whatsoever in the theory and practice of democracy in Israel.

    But I warn you plainly that unless the Jewish state, hopefully representing the Jewish nation, annexes Shomron and Yehuda, re-Judaizing those ancient Jewish districts while limiting the the Arab residents of those territories to local autonomy, then Israel will not have a future that any reasonably intelligent person would be able to count on as permanent.

    Get the present judenrat out of power in Israel, or you will all live to regret the results of having empowered them

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  3. yamit82 Said:

    Jimmy Kimmel Mocks Obama Workout

    Vlad has been b@tch slapping barry around for a while now.
    I think michelle wears the pants.
    Perhaps he is actually Americas first gay pres or first female pres.
    I think that even Hillary could slap him around.

  4. According to Gal-On, “the clear result of [the bill’s passage] will be that Jews get preference over all other Israeli citizens

    I thought that was the main idea of the state of Israel and the Jewish homeland: hence, the law of return, a law of preference to protect and provide safe haven for world Jewry.
    Wasn’t it a “democracy” that brought Hitler into government?

  5. I am convinced that Livni was appointed by
    BB specifically to obstruct and water down right-wing nationalist goals allowing him to blame her and thus enable him to keep on claiming to be a leader of the right. BB’s major accomplishment is to keep the right-wing out of power unable to promulgate any of their goals. He is a lightning rod to attract right-wing voters but never promulgates their goals. The idea may be to leave them with the idea that he is their only hope. By appointing Livni to do his dirty work he keeps, and maintains control over, the right wing electorate. I keep searching for proof in his action, not his words, of right wing nationalism and have yet to find it.
    whenever BB quarrels with Obama or abbas, or make some announcement that don’t follow through or are insignificant, he is able to get back his right-wing nationalist voters.
    He appears to be a centrist with a coalition built on the right but implementing a center left agenda. I guess that the hope of the right is to avoid the left and to hold back BB from going too far.
    It appears that only the right of center in Israel believes that Jewish settlement in YS is legal and legitimate.

  6. @ Viiit: True. If democracy trumps all then a growing Arab population will have more and more voting power to determine Israel’s future. Also history shows that democracies contain the seeds of their eventual destruction when it turns into mob rule. Look and the great U.S. democracy that voted for a stealth Muslim who is “democratically” destroying the constitution and dismantling the national infrastructure. We need a ‘two state solution’ where the second state is for the Jewish leftists to live with all their lunacy. Muslims have over 50 states and we are entitled to have a few Jewish states as well.


    Al Sharpton Defends Racist Rants: It Was Only One Jew…

    Al Sharpton’s history of hate is so voluminous and well documented, where does one even begin?

    The time he disparaged Jews as “diamond merchants” during the unrest of the infamous Crown Heights riots?

    Or when Sharpton tried goading NYC’s Jewish community into an all-out fistfight, saying “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house”?

    How about referring to the Jewish owner of Freddy’s Fashion Mart, Fred Harari, as a “white interloper” for seeking to expand his business in Harlem? (You may have heard of Freddy’s. It was also known as the Harlem Massacre. One of Sharpton’s followers also disapproved of the “white interloper” and burned the store to the ground, murdering eight people including himself.) […]

    On the night of the glitzy Washington Correspondents Dinner, Daily Surge Publisher Jason Mattera asked the faux Civil Rights leader if he should be banned from television, “in the spirit of Donald Sterling,” for all the “racist stuff” he’s said over the years. Sharpton, recall, threatened boycotts and protests if the National Basketball Association failed to ban Sterling from the league.

    If you can believe it, Sharpton challenged Mattera to produce evidence of racism.

    And when that evidence was produced, easily (see above) – in this case, him calling Fred Harari a “white interloper” and David Dinkins a n***** – Sharpton ignored the shot at Dinkins, but ridiculously claimed that “whiter interloper” didn’t rise to the level of racism because it was directed at only one Jew, not a neighborhood of them.

    “When did I call Jews ‘white interlopers’?” Sharpton demanded.

    Mattera reminded Sharpton of Freddy’s Fashion Mart and followed-up with, “Doesn’t it take some serious balls on your end to accuse somebody of racism?”

    Sharpton blustered back, “You went from one guy who paid people off the books and was wrong,” before the “Reverend ” rambled on about ‘lies’ and ‘distortions’ as though he’s been misinterpreted all these years.

    Of course, splitting hairs over anti-semitic comments is probably not the best position to find oneself in.

    “One guy!”

    Keep reading…

  8. If Israel is NOT Jewish state, then what was the point of establishing it?
    Jews could just live in Canada.

  9. Latest version of bill sponsored by two right-wing MKs has been stripped of some of its controversial clauses

    Democracy and multiculturalism in, Jewish out!!!! If BB and Livni support it it’s a worthless piece of toilet paper and not good for the Jews. Yamit
    Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is to head a committee aimed at reaching an agreed-upon version of the “Jewish State law” that will be submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday. Livni’s committee will also comprise the bill’s sponsors, MKs Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Yariv Levin (Likud), and Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid).

    The ministerial committee will discuss on Sunday a modified proposal for a Basic Law that establishes Israel’s status as “the nation-state of the Jewish people.” Shaked and Levin have revoked its more controversial clauses, which subjugated democratic values to Jewish ones. They hope the prime minister and cabinet members, including those who previously opposed the bill, will now endorse it.

    Ministers Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Livni (Hatnuah), who had intended to torpedo the bill, are likely to change their position and support the bill due to the major changes in it, lawmakers have said.

    In recent years the right wing has attempted to pass the so-called “Jewish State law” in a bid to force the High Court of Justice to give Israel’s Jewish identity priority over its democratic one in cases in which the two clashed.

    Livni came out vehemently against the previous version of the bill, which defined Israel as the national home of the Jewish people, where the Jewish people have the exclusive right to national self-determination. The bill called the “Land of Israel” the exclusive homeland of the Jewish nation and no other.

    Shaked and Levin have since revoked the explicit stipulation subjugating Israel’s democratic values to its Jewish values as well as the controversial clauses dealing with the state’s Jewish identity and democratic government.

    In the current draft, Israel is defined as a “Jewish and democratic” state. To this the sponsors added key clauses from the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom.

    The bill also says the state is committed to the personal rights of all its citizens. The clause saying Arabic would not be an official language in Israel has also been scrapped.

    The committee will be established with the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to estimates, if committee members and Minister Livni will reach understandings, the prime minister will adopt them and push the resulting bill.

    Livni said she will not allow a law which will give precedence to the Jewish component over the democratic one in the makeup of the state, thus injuring equality.

  10. Thing is that the she capo does not give up… on what? On destroying Eretz Israel and Jews.
    And in turn what do we do? “Report” and comment but do not do a thing to remove that specimen from any function of state. By our inaction we show total weakness and a self destruction wish.