You may be following the debate currently taking place in Israel about the proposed Nation State Bill. The bill was due to be voted on yesterday, but was postponed for a week due to the rifts it is creating in the coalition government. On first reading the bill may seem like another seemingly dull conversation about legislation and constitutional law, but it is so much more.
We don’t yet know what exact form it is going to take, as watered-down drafts have been proposed, but in every version it affirms the individual rights of all Israelis but reserves communal rights solely for the Jewish population. In its most extreme form, Arabic is demoted as a national language, a status it has held since the founding of the state. In every version of the bill currently on the table, in the absence of a clear ruling in civil law, Jewish tradition and religious law is to influence judgement.
The bill has been heavily criticised by many high profile individuals in Israel including Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and President Reuven Rivlin, who stated: ‘(the) hierarchical approach, which places Jewishness before democracy, misses the great significance of the Declaration of Independence, which combined the two elements together – without separating them’.
If you believe that Israel’s character as a Jewish state hinges on its democratic nature, then this bill is one of the biggest threats to the Israel that was envisioned in its Declaration of Independence. It threatens to destabilise the already tense relations between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens, and has already elicited an international outcry from Israel’s global allies.
So please, show how much you value Israel and her character as a Jewish and democratic state by writing to the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, explaining why you object to the nation-state bill.