Basic Law: Zionism’s right of return

Israel’s Arabs have no intention of relinquishing their aspirations to eradicate the idea of the Jewish state, even after the establishment of a Palestinian state.

May 11, 2017 20:41
4 minute read.
THE MINARET of a mosque is seen in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem

THE MINARET of a mosque is seen in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Opponents of the proposed Basic Law: The State of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People are, in practice, supporting post-Zionist tendencies striving to transform Israel into a binational state. Hard to believe? Read what Israel’s Arab leaders say on the topic.

• In 2006, the Higher Monitoring Committee for Arabs in Israel published a document titled “The Future Vision for the Arab Palestinians in Israel.” The “vision” included the explicit declaration that Israeli Arabs are struggling for “the establishment of the independent Palestinian state and a solution for the refugee problem in a just and agreed-upon manner.”

The document also stated that Israeli Arabs have no interest in the State of Israel continuing to serve as a Jewish state, and this because “the State’s designation as a Jewish State... places us in conflict with the nature and essence of the country in which we live... Israel’s official definition as the country of the Jewish people constitutes an ideological obstacle, negating the possibility of instituting fundamental equality for its Arab citizens.”

The document was composed by 37 representatives of the political, intellectual and civilian elites, including the future head of the United (Arab) List in the Knesset, Ayman Odeh, this following his marketing to the Israeli public as the moderate leader of Israel’s Arab population.

• In May 2007, Mada al-Carmel – Arab Center for Applied Social Research published the Haifa Declaration in which it was claimed that “reconciliation also requires recognition of the Right of Return... the end of the occupation, the dismantling of the settlements from all the territories....”

At the same time, “this necessitates a change in Israel’s constitutional structure – from that of a Jewish state to a democratic state based on national and civil equality between the two national groups....”

This document too was signed by dozens of Israeli-Arab public leaders including, again, Ayman Odeh and also, the future MK Haneen Zoabi. Alongside them, the Haifa Declaration was also signed by representatives of Shatil (the operative wing of the New Israel Fund), the Association for Civil Rights, Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civil Equality, the Haifa Municipality, the Galilee Society, the Van Leer Institute, Adalah and others.

• In February 2007, between the publication of these two documents, Adalah published a draft proposal of its own for a national constitution within the framework of which it proposes to designate Israel as a “bilingual and multi-cultural” state. Furthermore, Adalah related to the conclusion of the conflict with the Palestinians by demanding that Israel “withdraw from all the territories occupied since 1967.” In their introduction to the proposal, the authors testify to a strong affinity existing between the three documents: “each of the three possesses its own unique features while all three complement each other.”

It is important to emphasize that the quotes cited here are succinct, and that an in-depth examination of the documents in question exposes the readers to many statements hostile to the notion of a Jewish state and to its very existence. These documents were written by a wide range of Israeli-Arab leaders, including many considered relatively moderate from a national perspective. It is interesting to note that those prominent in their absence are actually those more extreme figures such as Raed Salah and his colleagues in the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.

This picture can leave no room for doubt: Israel’s Arabs have no intention of relinquishing their aspirations to eradicate the idea of the Jewish state, even after the establishment of a Palestinian state. The timing of the documents’ publication, during the years 2006-2007, can serve as corroboratory evidence, i.e. only shortly after the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

The Disengagement Plan transmitted a clear message: that the State of Israel does not regard the territories liberated during the Six Day War as integral parts of the historical homeland and, in practice, admits the validity of the Palestinians’ claims. Once it became apparent to the Israeli Arabs that the ideological battle for the Palestinian state had been resolved, the focus of attention was transferred to the nature of Israel itself as a binational state.

Ultimately, it must be primarily incumbent upon those seeking to guarantee the future of the Jewish state via the establishment of a Palestinian state, to provide the solution for its implementation. In 2008, after having extensively studied the three documents at the Institute for Zionist Strategies, we reached a clear conclusion: The response to the radical demands of the Israeli Arabs necessitates the fortifying of the State of Israel’s designation as a Jewish state by legislating of a Basic Law in the Knesset. Following joint and comprehensive endeavor together with MK Avi Dichter, we have proposed the legislating of the Basic Law: The State of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.

The challenge laid by the Israeli Arabs at the feet of those supporting Israel’s definition as a Jewish and democratic state is such that, even today, 10 years after the publication of the three papers discussed here, an alternative solution has yet to be presented. The government of Israel and its prime minister have therefore justifiably earned their compliments for their decision to promote this important proposal.

The writer is a project manager at the Institute for Zionist Strategies.

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