The Nation-State Law: The first serving of the ‘New Israel’

The central argument does not focus anymore on the division of land, but on the character of the State of Israel.

August 2, 2018 22:21
3 minute read.
The Nation-State Law: The first serving of the ‘New Israel’

The Knesset votes on the nation-state bill, July 19, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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In 1914, when Louis Brandeis said “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” sexual harassment was not of public interest.

However, 100 years later, his words ring true in regards to issues of sexual harassment and assault, proving that the best punishment to those who have committed atrocious crimes is to expose the deeds in bright sunlight and for everyone to hear and witness.

In the previous weeks, however, this sunlight has received additional meaning and value. Israel’s Nation-State Law has been approved by the Knesset to serve as the sunlight disinfecting the darkness.

An outsider might ponder as to what the commotion is about, since the law will not cause any changes in everyday life, nor does it entail any obligations. The law serves a broader purpose as a foundation of the Knesset and the State of Israel.

With a delay of 70 years, the Knesset legislated the law continuing the main idea of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, which determined that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish nation and therefore, the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. The law clarified the unique self-determination of the Jewish people, deriving from the connection of the Jewish people to their homeland, and fulfilling the aspiration of gathering the Jews to the land of their forefathers.

It seems as if the law should have been overwhelmingly passed by all Zionist parties in the Knesset, however the Left and the media have been recruited to strongly oppose it, stressing the unfortunate situation of the central fraction line between the Right and Left wings in Israel today.

The central argument does not focus anymore on the division of land, but on the character of the State of Israel. Is Israel to be a Jewish, national, conservative and traditional state? Or is it to be a secular state whose central objective is to reach ultimate equality and to be a state for all the nations?

The Nation-State Law is the sunlight Brandeis referred to, serving as a mirror for the Left in Israel. The insight deriving from the discussions of the Left seem unbelievable, as it would appear to be that the Left in Israel would not have signed that 1948 declaration of independence due to the difficulty of accepting the preference of the Jewish nationality in Israel. This is the prevailing friction line which conservatives are making efforts to battle against ultra-liberal groups.

For Brandeis himself, the situation was obvious. He claimed that the Jews had a right to their land, ironically, on the basis of equality.
According to every survey and research recently conducted, Israel is becoming more conservative, religious and national. The Nation-State Law has brought Israel to identity-verification in which the battle between the globalists and the people advocating for the land has become difficult, however, essential and critical as well.

In this new reality, the Right in Israel is faced with actions to pursue: First is to continue promoting laws that will strengthen the Jewish identity of Israel and at the same time strengthen the connection with those who will disprove these laws, with an emphasis on connecting to the Left in Israel. We cannot sever the ties between the two political wings, and Israel must continue molding and building a proud nation state. Other Western countries which are fighting for their identity will be those who pick the fruits of Israel’s efforts.

The writer is the CEO of the World Betar Movement.

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