The “Nation-State” law corrects an existing constitutional distortion. Those who demand that the law include equality are trying to harness this law to serve the extreme left.
Let’s begin with the law “Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People”, itself. I have read the interesting arguments of the critics of the law and have not found a single practical argument that holds water. Nothing. Zilch.
The driving force behind the new left-wing hysteria is the protest of the Druze officers. The “Nation-State” law had been under discussion for four years. The drafting addressed countless objections over dozens of hours of debate and hundreds of columns in the press. A week after the draft was approved as law in its third reading in the Knesset, someone came up with the idea to get 100 Druze officers to say they are now second-class citizens. They then ran this spin over hundreds of hours of broadcast, culminating in a burst of kitsch sentimentality by Riyadh Ali of the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC).
Sometimes though, even the slickest of campaigns runs into a snag. At precisely the same time in a competing channel, Shivel Carmi Mansur took the wind out of the sails of the campaign, stating that the Druze have no problem with the law and that there is nothing discriminatory about it.
Facts are apparently irrelevant. When you want to, you can completely eliminate facts that were on a prime-time, ratings-leading Friday newscast, and thrust upon the agenda an emotional and heartbreaking monologue of Riyadh Ali from the ratings bottom-feeding IPBC Friday News broadcast.
So the left-wing’s current Ace in the hole is that the “Nation-State” law does not include a reference to the Druze, and thus turns the Druze into second-class citizens. This argument raises several questions: Why should the Druze be included in the particular law and not the Circassians? What about the Baha’i? Or the Bedouin? Many of whom serve the country. Or how about the Black Israelites? Not to mention the nearly two million Israeli Arabs that the left wing spin doctors tossed under the bus, just to trick some center-right people who feel bad about their Druze brothers-in-arms.
The answer is very simple: the “Nation-State” law does not deal with the Druze, the Bedouin, Circassians, Israeli Arabs, Baha’is or any minorities at all. What it does is pour content into the concept of the nation-state of the Jewish People and anchors it in a Basic Law that, in the Matrix created by former Chief Justice Barak, will eventually acquire the status of a constitution. The main purpose of the law is to determine that Israel’s national identity carries no less constitutional weight than the important weight given to individual rights.
Correcting an Old Distortion
The claim that this is a nationalistic law, racist or discriminatory, because it does not include the word ‘equality’, is absurd at best and a post-Zionist fraud in the more reasonable case. The reason for this is simple: the “Nation-State” law is not the only law in the book, nor is it the only Basic law in what is supposed to be the basis of the future constitution.
Alongside the “Nation-State” law is the existing Basic law: “Human Dignity and Freedom”. It doesn’t mention ‘equality’ either, and not by mistake. The term was dropped from that law after dozens of hours of discussions on the subject, precisely out of a concern that eventually came about: that if ‘equality’ had been included in the law, the courts would interpret it in opposition to the legislature’s intention and use it to sabotage the Jewish character of the state. The omission of the term ‘equality’ from the “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” did not help. The Supreme Court interpreted the law as if it meant ‘equality’, using this contrived value in an act of Judicial activism to pass obstructive rulings, such as in the Ka’adan v. Israel Lands Administration ruling, that undermined Jewish settlement.
Equal rights advocates are brewing up a public storm and trying to stick a wedge between the Druze public and the state, because the law that deals with the definition of national identity, makes no reference to equality. They never said a word over the 26 years in which there was no balance in Israel’s constitutional structure; when the rights of the individual were granted constitutional supremacy, and the Jewish identity of the state was trampled on by the judicial system over and over again.
The reason they are howling is clear: the “Nation-State” law does not create a constitutional distortion but instead corrects the existing constitutional distortion. It attempts to create a balance in a warped constitutional system, one in which individual rights have become an axe in the hands of the post-Zionist elite to chip away at the national identity of the state.
In the old situation, one Basic Law reigned supreme – the “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom”. It allowed the judicial system to advance decisions without attaching even minimal consideration to ensuring the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. Now, the new situation created with the establishment of the “Nation-State” basic law, requires that the courts and state authorities act to ensure the preservation of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
If the State of Israel is a “Jewish and democratic state”, then the old situation was a distorted and unbalanced situation, while the new situation is a balanced one. Everything else is spin, demagoguery and sentimental drivel designed for useful idiots.
The Obvious Needs to be Legislated
One of the central arguments of the left against the “Nation-State” law is that it is unnecessary, because the Declaration of Independence already enshrines the identity of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. If the justices of the Supreme Court seem leftist today, imagine Supreme Court justices in 30 years, graduates of the current faculties of law, readers of the current opinion section of Haaretz and the products of today’s left who view the diluted “Nation-State” law as an expression of nationalism, racism and dark days. How do you think Supreme Court justices will decide on the petition against the government’s policy that would prevent the entry of hundreds of thousands of infiltrators from Africa if the “Nation-State” Law had not enacted?
They would most likely tie the government’s hands and determine that, in the existing constitutional structure, they are obligated to rule in accordance with the “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom”, disregarding the importance of ensuring the Jewish majority. “The Israeli legislature had ample time to anchor the question of the national identity of the state in basic legislation and to grant the issue a constitutional status similar to human dignity and freedom, but consciously chose not to do so for decades,” the justices would say. “As such, we can only rule that the government’s policy is unconstitutional, ” and thus opening the country’s gates to hundreds of thousands of illegal infiltrators.
This is the real problem with naive leftists. They can be believed to be Zionist but opposed to the “Nation-State” law, since the left tends not to look a step and a quarter ahead. Today, there is a Jewish majority? Today, there is no infiltration into Israel? There is a law of return? There is no “Nation-State” law today? Then apparently, such a law is unnecessary. Future threats and future challenges are irrelevant to them. The main thing for them is to feel they are moral, enlightened and progressive.
There is no way to turn it around. Those who oppose the “Nation-State” law, oppose the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. In the very least, they object to any step, even the minimal one, intended to ensure and protect Israel’s Jewish identity. If the theoretical support of left-wingers for Israel’s identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people is translated into opposition to every step designed to ensure its existence as such, then what is the value of this theoretical support? It is the same as being against it.
*(Translated excerpts from article in Mida.org.il Hebrew)
Erez Tadmor is an Israeli Radio commentator