Politics, World, Middle East

‘Jewish state’ law sparks outrage among Jews

The controversial law recognizes Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people"

21.07.2018
‘Jewish state’ law sparks outrage among Jews

JERUSALEM

A recently-approved Israeli law that recognizes Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people” has invited a storm of condemnations and outrage in Israel and among Jewish groups.

Approved by Knesset (Israel’s parliament) on Thursday, the legislation also states that a “united Jerusalem” is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country's official language, stripping Arabic of its earlier designation as an official language while recognizing its “special status.”

Tamar Zandberg, chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz Party, described the law as “shameful”.

“Zionism is no longer a national movement, but a forceful nationalism that humiliates the minority and establishes racial supremacy,” she said.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said “it is sad that the last speech for him as the head of opposition will be against this backdrop.”

“History only will determine whether the law will benefit Israel or not,” he said.

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni said the legislation was only to benefit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu wants the law for his fight,” said Livni, a member of the Zionist Union.

Her party, the largest opposition party with 24 seats in Knesset, had voted against the law during its three readings.

Netanyahu has earlier hailed the legislation, describing its passage as a “defining moment for Zionism and Israel.”

Colonial

Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel has decried the legislation as “colonial” and “features key elements of apartheid”.

“The law guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality,” the NGO said in a statement.

It said the law further violates absolute prohibitions under international law which “proclaims practices of apartheid, including legislation, as a crime against humanity”.

“The new law constitutionally enshrines the identity of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people only despite the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of the state,” it added.

New Israel Fund a U.S.-based non-profit organization, described the legislation as “tribalism as its worst.”

"It is a slap in the face of Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel," it said in a statement.

"Legislation that identifies first- and second-class citizens has no place in a democracy and danger to Israel’s future,” it added.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of Union of Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish denomination around the world, said the law would do an “enormous damage” to Israel.

The American Jewish Committee, a prominent Jewish advocacy groups in the United States, for its part, said it was disappointed by the law.

“It puts at risk the commitment of Israel's founders to build a country that is both Jewish and democratic,” it said.

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