Nation-state bill undercuts ‘Israel’s moral legitimacy,’ opponents warn

“The ethical and moral strength of the State of Israel rests on the delicate and precise balance conceived by our founding fathers,” Zionist Union MK argues • MK Avi Dichter: Bill will not hurt Arab minority, any other interpretation is completely wrong.

The Knesset | Photo credit: Reuters

The controversial nation-state bill drew harsh criticism over the weekend, following an Israel Hayom report detailing several disputed revisions to its language, presented following pressure by the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties and the national-religious Habayit Hayehudi party.

The legislative proposal’s new draft defines Israel as a “Jewish state with a democratic regime” rather than a “Jewish and democratic state.” Under the new provisions, the state would be required to preserve the Jewish character of the state and protect sacred Jewish sites according to Jewish tradition. Once enacted, the bill will be one of Israel’s basic laws, which have been recognized by the courts as a de facto constitution.

Zionist Union MK Yossi Yonah lambasted the bill, arguing that “the ethical and moral strength of the State of Israel rests on the delicate and precise balance conceived by our founding fathers. The emerging nation-state bill will hurt this balance and will threaten our moral legitimacy around the world. For our own sake, it is best for this bill to be shelved.”

The office of Likud MK Avi Dichter, who introduced the bill, released a statement saying that “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People will be put to vote in the current Knesset session.”

The statement explained that “the debate over the word ‘democracy’ is between the phrases ‘Jewish and democratic state’ and ‘Jewish state with a democratic regime.’ An additional debate will deal with the question of language: Whether to write ‘Hebrew is the language of the state’ and ‘the Arabic language has a special status in Israel’ as is written now, or that the bill is ‘without prejudice to the de facto status of Arabic before the bill takes effect.’ The nation bill will not hurt the Arab minority, and any other interpretation is completely wrong.”

Dichter’s office also said that “MK Dichter’s basic law proposal will be presented for a its first [parliamentary] reading over the coming weeks with the support of the government, which did not submit its own bill proposal.”

Another point of contention in the bill states that “the land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people.” A provision stipulating the land of Israel is “where the State of Israel was established” was taken out as a result of pressure by the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Meanwhile, the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi are at odds over which party should be credited for the legislative proposal.

The Likud claims that Habayit Hayehudi is trying usurp the efforts to pass the bill and take credit for the move. Habayit Hayehudi has demanded the bill be discussed by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, chaired by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Habayit Hayehudi, while the Likud wants the Knesset House Committee, chaired by Likud lawmaker Yoav Kisch, to debate the bill.

Sources familiar with the issue said the Likud is expected to promote the nation-state bill, and in exchange Habayit Hayehudi will claim credit for the Jerusalem bill, which stipulates that a special, 80-MK majority vote would be required to enact any territorial concessions in the capital. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to debate the Jerusalem bill later this week.

July 9, 2017 | 14 Comments »

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14 Comments / 14 Comments

  1. @ Abolish_public_education:
    I think it is as naive to overgeneralize by saying all politicians are crooked as to say that none are. I simply don’t accept that. I can think of examples. I don’t think Shaked is crooked. I don’t think Michael Bloomberg was crooked as Mayor though I didn’t always agree with him. Like Trump, who I also believe in as President, he paid his own way and didn’t even take a salary. When he hired relatives, he paid their salaries and all travel expenses.

    On the other hand the Clintons are so corrupt and venal that the sheer magnitude of it amounts to a kind of moral purity in a way, if you think about it. I mean, as in pure evil. That too is a kind of purity.

    I think the truth is more along the lines of what Lincoln said about fooling the people: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

    Some are always corrupt, some are never corrupt, and some are corrupt some of the time.

  2. @ Sebastien Zorn

    The always-crooked politicians are most certainly NOT the body-politic which should get to decide the form of government that will be imposed (on greater society).

    It should come as no surprise that a significant number (super-majority?!) of them will favor some flavor of democracy, wherein special interests constantly argue among themselves on the life-or-death question of who receives tax money.

    Since they never talk about a pure democracy (i.e. one where everyone votes on everything), that leaves the final decision exclusively up to, naturally, the politicians themselves, which gives them the unnecessary power to sell goodies for votes, an evil trading post that always builds political pressure for more government.

    So it’s not blather. It’s simply politicians doing what they always do: attempting to grab more power.

  3. @ Abolish_public_education:
    Liberals and leftists who wave the Constitution like a flag, generally do so in order to let our enemies move freely among us in the name of universal rights. In other words, with conscious dishonesty. See the Orwell excerpt on the subject I have no posted twice or is it thrice.

    But, there is such a thing as rights.

    So, whereas on the one hand, the debate about the meaning of the word “democracy” in Israel’s basic law is so much blather,

    On the other hand,


    it isn’t.

  4. “Democracy” as a governing political concept, rather than the tired slogan for leftists that it has evolved to, worked best in the ancient Hellenic city states — and especially Athens — in the couple of centuries which preceded the Macedonian conquest of the eastern Mediterranean lands.

    Even so, the Athenian democracy was for males alone to decide government, and only those men who were established citizens of each such city. Strangers had no such rights.

    “Democracy” is mentioned nowhere in the Declaration of Independence of July 1776, nor in the Constitution of the United States which followed the long war of independence and was ratified by representatives of the first 13 United States.

    Indeed, it is appropriate to say that the Electoral College which decided the 2016 national election strongly in favor of Donald Trump was in fact designed as a purposeful limitation of democracy built in as such to the governance of the USA right from its beginning. That has proven itself as a limitation which I have firmly approved throughout my relatively long life. Because all the experiences of the world as I have witnessed since my childhood have taught me that a stable society with built-in rights for its citizens beats by far the mob rule that all too frequently uses the term “democracy” to mask itself.

    Arnold Harris, Outspeaker

  5. On the other hand,

    “”The Constitution is not a suicide pact” is a phrase in American political and legal discourse. The phrase expresses the belief that constitutional restrictions on governmental power must be balanced against the need for survival of the state and its people. It is most often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, as a response to charges that he was violating the United States Constitution by suspending habeas corpus during the American Civil War. Although the phrase echoes statements made by Lincoln, and although versions of the sentiment have been advanced at various times in American history, the precise phrase “suicide pact” was first used by Justice Robert H. Jackson in his dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. Chicago, a 1949 free speech case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The phrase also appears in the same context in Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision written by Justice Arthur Goldberg.”

  6. “In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.”

    George Orwell. 1946.

  7. the land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people

    We don’t want the always-crooked politicians to “resolve” questions of historical fact.

    The Government is NOT omniscient. It’s knowledge of history reaches no further back than the previous election.

    Besides, history teaches us that at least 98% of the time, government resolves that ‘1+1= 3’; the difference due to luck.

  8. the debate over the word ‘democracy’

    Resolved: Should Israel have Big Government, or gigantic, COLOSSAL Government?

    A Big Government state cannot endure as a democracy. As soon as the mob figures out how to play the Game, i.e. to vote themselves freebies and send the (tax) bill to someone else, it’s game over.

    A small government — e.g. one which concerns itself only with a few things (and especially, things which nobody cares about) — can operate in democratic (or any other) fashion.

    For example, the question of what color to paint the walls of the parliament building could be resolved by popular vote or a president’s dictatorial decision, and nobody would care (or even notice).

  9. The whole issue is about what other people will say about Israel. This is nonsense and anyone that follows up on this nonsense is stupid.
    All our Arab neighbors have no problem at all calling their countries Moslem or Hashemite and so on. Why does Israel have a problem with calling itself Jewish? We should claim to be a Jewish country up front and be proud about it. Jews are democratic mostly, only being less democratic when their Jewishness is called into question. All the so-called rules of democracy like freedom of speech and the like should never be more important than being Jewish. Democracy is rule of a large minority by a small majority, which doesn’t mean that everybody agrees about everything. Due to democracy, they agree to get along with one another. Can you say this about adherents of Islam?

  10. [N-S] will threaten our moral legitimacy around the world.

    WTF cares about a government’s “moral legitimacy”?

    They all suck.


  11. .. Israel’s basic laws .. have been recognized by the courts as a de facto constitution.

    This is a completely loaded assertion.

    The crooked judges do what they want. When it’s convenient, they yammer about fealty to higher law. But in general, they couldn’t care less about such old-fashionisms as guiding principles.

    Speaking of which, a bunch of political rules crafted by politicians most certainly does NOT a constitution make.