The Jewish Nation-State bill sends a powerful message that the State of Israel belongs only to the Jewish People, all the while ignoring the civil and human rights of minority communities and enabling extensive institutional discrimination of many sectors of the public. The Jewish Nation-State Bill, which has come under heavy criticism from across the political spectrum, including from President Rivlin, identifies anyone who is not Jewish as a second class citizen in the State of Israel. The overall message is that the State belongs only to Jews. There is no consideration of minorities, their collective and individual rights. Moreover, the bill is liable to bring about institutional discrimination of different groups in Israeli society. ACRI therefore calls on the public to protest against this bill, and calls on all Members of the Knesset to vote against it. Important points about this proposed bill:
The proposed bill constitutes a de facto preamble to the Israeli constitution and will have a major impact on the character of the state and political regime. The bill does not specify that the State of Israel is a country with a democratic political regime nor does it express any obligation to democracy or equality whatsoever. Furthermore, the bill fails to address non-Jewish minority communities in Israel, in particular the Arab minority, which make up some 20 % of the country's citizens. The bill fails to mention their collective and individual rights and, moreover, alleviates the State from ensuring they are treated as equal citizens without discrimination. Despite the opposition of the Attorney General, the Knesset legal advisor, and President Rivlin, the bill includes clauses that determine that "the State has the right to allow a community, especially a homogeneous religious or ethnic community to establish a separate residential locality." This clause would allow all-Jewish communities – in effect, a reversal of the High Court's Kadan decision against the Israeli Land Authority that upheld non-discriminatory allocation of resources irrespective of place of residence. The bill would in fact allow for discrimination within every community, neighborhood or even building project. The clause can discriminate against all those who are not identified as part of a specific community, whether they are religious, ultra-orthodox, secular, immigrants, LGBTQ communities, and others. The proposed bill determines that the official language of the State of Israel is Hebrew only. Arabic, on the other hand, would have only a special status that will be determined in a separate law. Even though Arabic is the native language for some 20 % of the country's citizens, the Knesset has not recognized the most basic right to language. The use of language is not simply a cultural matter but enables its speakers to realize their lives and rights.
Adv. Sharon Abraham-Weiss Executive Director