Friday, August 24, 2018


If you choose to read the analysis of Netanyahu's Nation-State and have an opinion on it, you might be reassured by the typical "Israel Can Do No Wrong" screed of a Caroline Glick or Jonathan Tobin who suggest "nothing happening here, be on your way." Although Tobin at least understands that "[T]here are some good reasons why Israel’s Knesset should not have passed the controversial nation-state law," Glick posits that if you oppose this "nothingburger" you're either a member of a frustrated minority in Israel or an "anti-Zionist" and that you have certainly misread the Bill which does nothing more than codify Herzl's and Ben Gurion's dreams. Both pundits opinion if not their stridency are echoed by Sara Greenberg, the Prime Minister's Advisor on World Jewish Communities.

To suggest that the law, pushed to passage by a Israel's governing coalition, merely recites that Israel is "a Jewish State for the Jewish People," ignores the Act's language that disparages the service of Druze warriors in the IDF and ignores that minority's loyalty to the State. Further, it ignores critical mandates of Israel's Declaration if Independence as if those are irrelevant in 2018 ans beyond. Those who dismiss the Bill's impact ignore JFNA's rare and principled statement on the effects of the legislation:
"Jewish Federations stand shoulder to shoulder with the Druze community and urge Israeli legislators to work with the community as soon as possible to address their very real concerns.
As strong supporters of Israel, we were disappointed that the government passed legislation which was effectively a step back for all minorities."
I agree with Jonathan Tobin --  the Nation-State Bill need not have been passed. I would go further: it should not have been passed. The impacts are self-evident. And, now, the Justice Minister has suggested that if the Druze claims to the Israeli Supreme Court prevail in striking down the legislation, there will be societal upheaval and, no doubt, a further attack on the role of the Judiciary. This from the Israeli Justice Minister whose legal position here (and elsewhere) appears clearly to be based on politics, not law.

As Rabbi Danny Gordis wrote:
"Can Israel really be a functioning democracy in a meaningful sense of the word even while placing the flourishing of the Jewish people at the top of its priorities? Many of us believe that it is possible, but we understand that it would require a deft hand, an ongoing commitment to nurturing a sense of belonging among Israel’s minorities.."
It was good to hear JFNA's voice on this issue. Let us hope that (1) that voice is heard and (2) it won't be the last time we hear it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Without taking sides, the real issue is that even if Diaspora Jews are not happy with decisions of the Government of Israel, complaining from our secure rocking chairs here in the States will not do a thing. We must strengthen those organizations in Israel with which we agree, and, more importantly, we must build Aliyah. Right now, most of those making Aliyah from the States support this decision so unless the numbers change, the decision will hold.