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Proposed Basic Law Declares Israel a Jewish State

Written by Subject: Israel
Proposed Basic Law Declares Israel a Jewish State

by Stephen Lendman

Israel is the only nation without fixed borders. It wants them expanded. It wants territory not its own stolen.

It has no constitution. Basic Laws substitute. Netanyahu is a world class thug. He shames the office he holds.

He heads the most ruthless regional regime. It's one of the world's worst. It threatens its neighbors. It mocks democratic governance. Days earlier Netanyahu said:

"It is my intention to submit a Basic Law to the Knesset that would provide a constitutional anchor for Israel's status as the national state of the Jewish people."

He called doing so the most "basic ingredient in our national lives…"

Officially establishing it "will win legal status just as other central ingredients that constitute our fundamental core that have already been ruled into the Basic Law of Knesset," he said.

"Unfortunately, as we have seen recently, there are those who do not recognize this natural right and who seek to appeal the historical, legal and moral justification for the existence of the state of Israel as the nation-state of our people."

"I see it as one of my basic missions as prime minister to fortify the state of Israel as the nation-state of our people."

Doing so highlights peace process illegitimately. It drives another nail in its coffin. It's been fantasy since begun decades earlier. It's worse than ever under Netanyahu.

Israeli Arab citizens face institutionalized persecution. Occupied Palestinians fare much worse. They're treated as subhumans.

They vilified for not being Jewish. They're denied fundamental rights. They're confined to largely isolated communities.

Their homes are bulldozed and destroyed. Their land is systematically stolen. They're dispossessed. They're hugely repressed.

They face deplorable socioeconomic discrimination. So do Israeli Arabs. They're considered a fifth column threat. They're called a demographic one.

Netanyahu wants them further marginalized. He wants more ruthless discrimination imposed. He wants democratic values more than ever eliminated.

He lied saying non-Jewish minority rights will be respected. They're not now. They'll be less so.

Netanyahu turned truth on its head, saying:

"It is hard for me to understand that among those calling on Israel to make concessions in Judea and Samaria due to their understandable desire to avoid a bi-national state are those who oppose defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people."

"It is impossible to speak out in favor of a Palestinian nation-state just to preserve the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and at the same time, to oppose recognizing that the State of Israel is the nation-state of Jewish people."  

"Supporting the creation of a Palestinian nation-state and opposing the recognition of a Jewish nation-state undermines in the long run the principle of the State of Israel's right to exist."

Israel's "Declaration of Independence sets, as the cornerstone in the life of the state, the national Jewish identity of the State of Israel."

"To my great regret, as we have seen recently, there are those who do not recognize this natural right."

"They seek to undermine the historic, moral and legal justification for the existence of the State of Israel as the national state of our people."

"(T)he most basic component in our life as a nation will receive constitutional status similar to the other main components that are the foundation of our state, as determined in the basic laws."

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett is a hard-right extremist coalition partner. He heads Israel's Habayit Hayehudi party. He supports what demands denunciation, saying:

"The nationality law is important for defining Israel as a Jewish state for the coming generations, and on this essential matter there must not be a (division between) left and right…"

"This law is part of the coalition agreement with Habayit Hayehudi, just like the referendum law that passed in the last Knesset session, and we consider its advancement an important goal."

Labor party head Isaac Herzog denounced Netanyahu's proposal.

"With all its being, the Labor Party supports Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," he said.

"Labor built the state and its leaders formulated the Declaration of Independence, the foundational document that anchors Israel as a Jewish state."

"Unfortunately, the diplomatic destruction Netanyahu is causing will lead Israel to lose its Jewish majority and become a binational state. This unfortunate fact is something no law can hide."

Meretz leader Gal-On added:

"The State of Israel also has non-Jewish citizens living in it, so it must define itself as the state of the Jewish people and of all its citizens. Whoever supports the two-state solution supports Palestinian sovereignty and asks the Palestinians to recognize Israeli sovereignty but not the character of the state."

Arab Knesset member Mohammed Barakeh heads Hadash. "Netanyahu is completing the series of racist laws that have been emerging in recent years and is leading Israel to become the first racial state of the 21st century," he said.

"The intent of his legislation is to realize John Kerry's description of Israel as an apartheid state."

"Passage of this law will revive the international debate over the issue of Zionism as racism."

"Arab citizens are not passersby in this country and they are not Netanyahu's guests."

"Our fight for equality and democracy alongside all believers in democracy will continue with or without Netanyahu's deluded and dangerous law."

"He's gone too far" this time. It doesn't surprise. He deplores equal rights. He vilifies Palestinians. He does so for not being Jewish. He terrorized them for years. He wants harsher treatment instituted.

Likud's MK Yariv Levin and Habayit Hayehudi's Ayelet Shaket recently introduced legislation similar to Netanyahu's.

It called the "land of Israel" Jews historic homeland. It afforded them exclusive self-determination rights. It ludicrously highlighted Israel's democratic status.

Enacting Netanyahu's "Jewish state law" aims at getting Israel's High Court endorsement. Doing so will change Israel's current self-styled definition. It's currently called "a Jewish and democratic state."

Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence declared its Jewish status. A 1985 Basic Law amendment officially added "democratic."

Fact: You can't have both. They're opposites. They're contradictory. Democracy guarantees equal rights for all citizens.

It does so regardless of race, color, creed, gender, language, religion, political views, national or social origin, as well as other common characteristics.

Days earlier, John Kerry said Israel risks becoming an apartheid state. He ignored decades of apartheid policies. They exceed South Africa's worst dark days.

His "unitary state" characterization suggests business as usual. It refers to top down control.

It denies Palestinians self-determination. It exposes US/Israeli peace process hypocrisy.

Total Israeli control exists. Palestinians have no say whatever. Sovereign independence is denied. So are fundamental rights. Kerry admitted Israel's chokehold.

Apartheid remains official Israeli policy. Peace process duplicity rubber-stamps it.

Enacting legislation affording Israel exclusive Jewish state status assures institutes it. Supreme Court justices have final say. Approval will write it in stone. It remains to be seen what happens.

Hatnuah party head Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said they oppose Netanyahu's proposal in its current form. Passage is uncertain.

Hard right Senator Rand Paul (R. KY) said he'll introduced legislation. It proposes cutting all US Palestinian funding unless the PA recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.

He did so in response to Fatah/Hamas unity pronouncements.

"In the absence of such a clear, unambiguous statement on the part of the newly unified Palestinian government, the United States should act to enforce the law and cut off aid to the Palestinian government until they recognize Israel's right to exist," he said.

Earlier he urged cutting US Israeli funding. He opposes foreign aid. He prioritizes national defense. He does so when America's only enemies are ones it invents.

He's a 2016 presidential aspirant. His politics run counter to mainstream America. Washington is infested with likeminded extremists. World peace hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Sharon Jarvis
Entered on:

There are 22 Muslim countries that declared themselves an official Islamic state.  When I see objections to that, I might pay attention to bigoted ravings (but probably not).

Comment by J E Andreasen
Entered on:

Mitzner's Blitz

Thursday Dec 19, 2013



Feiglin - Israel's libertarian rabble-rouser

Israel is a diverse country with a wide array of opinions on a given topic, but when it comes to Moshe Feiglin, the gushing is universal: the ultra-orthodox oppose him for his opposition to religious parties, the left oppose him for his capitalism and centrality of Judaism in nation-forming and the political center find his views too radical altogether.


With his calm and eloquent demeanor, it is not obvious why Moshe Feiglin is one of the most controversial figures in Israeli politics. Feiglin, who currently serves as the Knesset's deputy speaker, is a member of the governing Likud party and an old rival of its chairman the incumbent Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.


Feiglin, detested by the left and misunderstood by the right, is an anomaly who takes positions that to the masses often seem counterintuitive. But his positions have also won him a fan base of the oddest kind, from yarmulke-wearing settlers to techies roaming the streets of Tel Aviv. In the American context, Feiglin is somewhere between Ayn Rand's objectivism and the philosophical articulacy of William Buckley.


Feiglin opposes governmental coercion and celebrates choice. He is a believer in man's ability to thrive without a societal safety net afforded to him by taxpayers, but unlike Rand's objectivism, recognizes man’s limitations by acting humbly in accordance with the moral code found in the Torah.


As a religious Zionist, he opposes the Zionism of the Israeli left. "Whoever thinks that the state is the supreme value edges uncomfortably close to fascism," Feiglin lamented. With such statements Feiglin echoes Yeshayahu Leibowitz who warned of putting might of the army ahead of spirituality.


For a thoughtful observer, Feiglin's demeanor is far from the bombastic and Spartan bearing of the younger generation of Zionist leaders like Naftali Bennett.  


Indeed, there is something disconcerting about Naftali Bennett, Danny Danon and Avigdor Liberman. All three act as the guardians of the Jewish people, espouse ideas and solutions without hesitancy or doubt. Many see Feiglin as part of the clique of the populist new right, but to lump Feiglin together with tough-talking Liberman would be to surrender to the power perception and give no credence to substance.


In fact, whether the loyalty oath, biometric passport or the law to ban certain NGO's, Feiglin seems different. Unlike Liberman, Feiglin's views emanate from a different tradition and Liberman's authoritarian instincts are part of the statism which Feiglin opposes.


In a nutshell, Feiglin is a Jewish libertarian, for whom libertarianism should be harnessed to serve the sole purpose of solidifying Israel as a Jewish state. Unlike many of his peers, Feiglin is unwilling to push for laws that might or might not alter the future. Indeed, laws such as the NGO bill and biometric passport are based on the premise that Israelis must be protected from events that might or might not occur.


Indeed, the element of faith seems to be the main difference between Feiglin and his peers on the right.


One Likud insder thinks that Feiglin is out of step with the Israeli public because of his rampant indifference to public opinion.


"Feiglin doesn’t do much to help himself though. He and his movement are anti-PR people. That is, they don’t think about appealing to a wider audience, by picking their strongest issues or finding the right time and manner of pursuing them. They just don’t care. There’s a certain psychology to it."

Most politicians in Israel succumb to the admittedly heavy web of interests that often force ideologically opposing sides to strike a deal on a decisive issue. Indeed, the perception of Israeli politicians as hardened ideologues is largely false. Party leaderships flock to the center when in the government, and oppose the government when in opposition.


A recent indication of this was witnessed when the nationalist Jewish Home party, led by Naftali Bennett, agreed to stay in the government after it was decided that Israel would release over a hundred terrorists as a good will gesture towards the Palestinians.


For better or worse, Feiglin is neither a populist looking to incite the public nor a party hack always willing to toe the party line. He leads his own faction, Manhigut Yehudit (The Jewish leadership Movement) which for lack of a better comparison is to the Likud what the Tea Party is to the GOP establishment: a pain in the neck. If PM Netanyahu is John Boehner, then Feiglin is Ted Cruz.


U.S aid is another hot button issue that separates Feiglin from the mainstream. Most Israelis take U.S aid as a given. However, most Israelis prefer not to be perceived as America's Middle Eastern poodle, but only a few are willing to do much about it. Although the relationship between America and Israel is largely mutually beneficial, Feiglin is against U.S. aid to Israel.


"This aid is not in our favor, not economically, not militarily, not in any way. This aid serves psychological purposes, not anything else. We are talking about 1.5 percent of our income, of what Israel is producing — we can definitely deal without it."

Israelis are generally apathetic when it comes to the conflict, but have begun to regain some of that passion and fervor embedded in the Jewish culture, but easily forgotten in the Mediterranean surroundings where leisurely pursuits often take precedence over philosophy.


Feiglin’s agenda of liberty is starting to resonate although still haunted by his reputation. Many Israelis belonging to the disjointed left, and who thought they had once again found their collective voice during the tent protests of 2011, have started to listen to what Feiglin is preaching.


After failed attempts to achieve better conditions – largely due to the incoherence of the demands and an element of youthful foolishness – the educated Israel middle-class might one day turn its attention to the man they still view with suspicion. Feiglin's internal rival, Benjamin Netanyahu has lost the battle for the middle class, but Feiglin’s political destiny is yet to be sealed. 


The author is currently the editor in chief of, a financial daily. Follow Dennis @DennisMitzner 


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