Givat Haviva's Response to the Proposed "Jewish Nation-State" Basic Law

Givat Haviva expresses its deep concern at the current steps being carried out to enact a "Jewish Nation-State" Basic Law, a law that threatens to further damage the shared social fabric of the State of Israel.  The law ultimately would establish superiority to the national element over its democratic structure, by granting preferential rights to the majority over the minority.  This sentiment is in complete contradiction to what is stated in the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the character that the founders and lawmakers hoped to establish, as expressed in the Basic Laws up until now and especially highlighted by the "Respect for Humans and their Freedom" Law.

We view with puzzlement and concern how in times that call for calm reconciliation and dialogue, the actions of the government of Israel and its leadership are actually raising fences between sectors of the population and enforcing what already polarizes the various groups.  These actions deepen separation and discrimination instead of extinguishing the sizzling conflagration, and do nothing to strengthen the basis for building a Shared Future.

We see the current process as a dangerous political gamble with the future of Israeli society and a lack of social sensitivity and political insight.  Together this constitutes a complete distortion of the vision of the Zionist movement of the State of Israel, traditionally as not only the homeland of the Jewish people, but also a state with equality for all of its citizens.

There are a number of components in this proposed law that will make the discrimination and separation the Arab minority suffers from much deeper.  Its objective is to permit courts to give preference to the Jewish identity of the State over its democratic government in rulings where there is a clash between both values.  The proposal attempts to deviate from the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and currently existing legislation and to redesign the nature of the State of Israel as a Jewish State with its democratic nature being secondary to its Jewish essence.

The proposed law includes a series of definitions that will significantly harm equality and will strengthen the discrimination and separation suffered by Arab citizens of Israel:

  • Israel will be defined as the National State of the Jewish people
  • The democratic government will be subject to its definition as a Jewish Nation-State
  • The Arabic language will not be defined as an official language in Israel
  • Jewish law will be used as an inspiration for new legislation and for court rulings 
  • The country will act to support Jewish settlement within its realm, but will not commit to construction for other nationalities 
  • The collective right to the fostering of culture and heritage is reserved for Jews only
As those who work for the establishment of an egalitarian, shared society and for democracy, we appeal to the Prime Minister and ask him to shelve this proposed law and to move forward an opposite proposal.  It is precisely today, in order to preserve democracy, the we propose to move forward a complete Basic Law of Human Rights that will anchor the right to equality in place of the proposed Jewish Nation-State law that will even further ingrain inequality.

We appeal to the Israeli government: The State of Israel was established as a democracy and not an ethnocracy.  We appeal to you to reject the proposed Nation-State law and in its place, to work for the equality and inclusion of all citizens of the State in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

Yaniv Sagee
Executive Director
Givat Haviva, Israel