Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah continued making public statements in
opposition of his party on Friday, coming out against “nationality bills” like
the one proposed by MK Ruth Calderon.
“Even in its best version,
so-called ‘nationality bills’ are unnecessary, and unnecessary legislation
should not be passed. In its worst versions, its a harmful bill for our shared
lives in this land and for our image abroad,” Shelah wrote on Facebook regarding
the proposals to legally define Israel as a Jewish and democratic
Shelah’s Facebook post came days after Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni appointed Hebrew University law professor Ruth Gavison to write a
“constitutional provision” on Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Sources
in the Prime Minister’s Office said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not
approve of the appointment.
Earlier this year, Livni vetoed Calderon’s
bill and another proposal on the topic by coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud
Beytenu) and MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) in the Ministerial Committee on
She did not clarify if the “constitutional provision”
Gavison is meant to work on will be a bill or not.
Shelah, however, is
against any type of legislation dealing with the balance between Jewish and
The first nationality bill was proposed by Kadima MK Avi
Dichter in the last Knesset and while mentioning that Israel is a democratic
state it mainly emphasized its Jewish aspect.
The intention of the bill,
similarly to Levin and Shaked’s proposal, is to give the courts a point of
reference when making judicial decisions, basing the law on its fulfillment of
its Jewish components before its democratic ones.
however, places the Independence Scroll as the anchor from which the law is to
Therefore, in a legal question of race or gender issues, “it
will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its
inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex,” as written in the scroll
would bind the hands of the courts.
“Any such proposal, which creates
levels of legitimacy and importance of languages, religions and cultures in
Israel is disgraceful,” the Yesh Atid faction chairman wrote. “It opposes the
vision of the Independence Scroll. It embodies the most harmful thing in the
current Israeli discourse – the feeling of victimization, which turns our
justice from something natural into a pathetic farce of false
Shelah singled out Calderon’s bill, which turns the
Independence Scroll into law, as problematic, saying that he doesn’t understand
why its necessary.
According to Shelah, the words “Jewish and democratic
state” are an oxymoron and any attempt to sharpen and define them only show how
self-contradictory they are.
“To some extent, Israel’s 65 years were
walking on a tightrope, which amazing democratic strength that was possible only
because we never tried to define it,” he added. “Our justice system, freedom of
expression and the political sphere are alive, kicking and impressive to anyone
who looks at us from the outside because we live this dialectic every day,
without a law that claims to define the big mixture of identities living
Shelah concluded by saying that any film that breaks the balance
between the majority and minorities in Israel must be fought.