NY Times chief Israel correspondent Jodi Rudoren has written a very good summary of the “Jewish nation-state” issue that sparked the end of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition and new elections:
Drafts of the so-called nationality bills would remove Arabic as an official language alongside Hebrew, increase the influence of Jewish law, reduce the power of the Supreme Court, and entrench the automatic citizenship of Jews worldwide and Jewish symbols of the state. The proposals, put off until the outcome of the parliamentary elections next year, do not mention the word “equality” or provide rights for non-Jews, though they would preserve voting rights for all citizens. . . .
Last week, in an op-ed at The Jewish Week’s website discussing this proposed legislation and the blemishes in Israel’s democracy regarding its Arab citizens, Ralph Seliger warned that the bill
would “lower [Israel] to the abysmal regional norms for treating minorities.” Despite its very real imperfections, he mentioned that Israel has standards and ideals that raise it above its neighbors:
It should be clear to anyone that Israel is the Jewish nation-state; shouldn’t this fact be secure enough — as long as Israel remains overwhelmingly Jewish — without having to enshrine it in law? At its best, Israel is all the more special as the home to substantial non-Jewish minorities who enjoy [some] democratic protections. Shouldn’t Israelis pride themselves for being virtually unique in this regard, in today’s Middle East, given that so many of its neighbors are increasingly intolerant and violent? . . .
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