Nation-State

The IZS is a staunch supporter of promoting Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. We consider this an issue of amplified importance given the continuous effort of certain entities to undermine a fundamental element of Israel’s character. Our research on this issue lays the foundations for the legitimacy of the Nation-State in keeping with liberal values. 

Jewish Nationl Home – IZS Proposal

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Basic Law: The National Home

The State of Israel was established as a Jewish state. Previous to its founding, the international community (speaking through the League of Nations and the UN Charter) had established and administered the British mandate to help ensure this result, and the General Assembly called for theestablishment of Jewish and Arab states in November 1949. In its Declaration of Independence, the newly established Jewish state was defined as the National Home of the Jewish People.  The Declaration also set forth some of the democratic principles to govern the State. For more than fifty there had been a broad public consensus in Israel regarding the meaning of a Jewish state and of the National Home of the Jewish People. But in recent years, there has been a change. A strong segment of the academic, intellectual and judicial establishment in Israel has been working to see to it that Israel becomes a liberal-democratic state instead of aJewish state and the National Home of the Jewish People. The state this group seeks to fashion would retain certain Jewish characteristics, but only those which do not infringe upon the principle of absolute equality. This extreme approach distorts the intentions of the nation’s founding fathers and the objective and moral reasons for Israel’s creation It would alter the Jewish nature of Israel and decimate its centrality and strength for theJewish People.

Clearly therefore, there is a pressing need to establish by law the fundamental characteristics of Israel as a Jewish state and the National Home for the Jewish People. This legislation must be in the form of a Basic Law so that it will not be undermined and eroded by judicial fiat. The IZS has drafted just such a Basic Law. The IZS draft law also includes provisions for the State to promote Jewish culture, history, education, and aliyah. It reaffirms and strengthens the connection of the Jewish state to the Jewish People, and the Jewish characteristics of the State, such as the centrality of Jerusalem, Hebrew as the official language, the Jewish calendar, and the national flag and anthem. Read More

Jewish National Home

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The State of Israel as the National Home of the Jewish People

Dubi Helman & Adi Arbel

Executive Summary

Read The IZS Proposal Summary

The State of Israel was established as a Jewish state.  This is clear from the terms of the League of Nations Mandate to establish a Jewish Homeland, from the UN Charter (which assumed responsibility for and continued this Mandate), from the UN Resolution of November 29, 1947 calling for the establishment of Jewish and Arab states, and from Israel’s Declaration of Independence (quoted below).

Israel’s character and behavior have always manifested its mission as a Jewish Homeland and the vast majority of Israelis have always so regarded their Country.  However, a small group of intellectuals have been advocating a radical liberal form of democracy which would elevate the ideal of absolute equality among all groups above all other democratic values (such as national self-determination, majority rule, liberty,  and civil rights).  This view has infiltrated the decisions of the Supreme Court whose members are  appointed by a committee dominated by sitting Supreme Court judges without any ratification process.

Recently, leaders of the Israeli Arab population have issued calls for the conversion of Israel into a bi-national state without any connection to the Jewish people or culture. Read More

The Status of Arabic in the State of Israel

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Abstract

An analysis of the current legal situation

Dr. Aviad Bakshi

It is commonly assumed that there are two official languages in Israel: Hebrew and Arabic. This assumption is not merely an academic theory, but serves as the basis for efforts to strengthen the status of Arabic as a language to be used for public purposes. In other words, many who are under the impression that Arabic has the legal status of an official language seek to maintain it as such.

The purpose of this document is to clarify for decision makers the current legal situation governing Arabic in Israel. This will enable them to make an informed and balanced decision concerning its future status. After the legal ramifications of an official language presented, it will be evident that Arabic is not an official language in Israel.

The State is permitted, and sometimes obligated, to provide linguistic accessibility to government services for speakers of various languages. An official language, though, differs from linguistic accessibility to government services on an as-needed basis, in that it grants a permanent and comprehensive status to the chosen language. An official language is the language in which the government operates in every respect, with all the functional and symbolic significance entailed.

According to Article 81 of the Palestine Order in Council (on which the claim that Arabic is an official language is based), an official language is not limited to enabling citizens to access information, but is the language with which the government operates in general. The official language may be used in courts and government offices, by both the citizens, and judges and officials. Any official government publication must be made the official language(s). The legislature’s choice of an official language therefore expresses a cultural choice concerning the language of government activity, and the public language in its sphere of influence, with all the derivative functional and symbolic significance. Read More

Basic Law proposal: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People – legal justification

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Aviad Bakshi

The goal of this position paper is to support the proposed Basic Law, Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, and to present the legal justifications for the enactment of this Basic Law.

While it is true that the principle of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation-state had been firmly anchored in Israeli law and legislation for dozens of years and that it reflects the traditional values of the Israeli state; over the past twenty years there has been a dramatic erosion in this status by Supreme Court rulings. A fundamental circumstance in Israel’s present legal reality, is the lack of a legal anchor for Israel’s crucial dimension as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This Basic Law proposal is in line with the accepted traditions of Israeli law and simultaneously fills a practical legal need caused by deviation from this tradition by the Supreme Court rulings described above. Read More

Basic Law proposal: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People – the liberal justification

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Aviad Bakshi

Abstract

There are those who argue that the idea of a Jewish nation-state contradicts the liberal values of human rights and therefore is illegitimate. Others agree, for various reasons, to accept the legitimacy of a state for the Jewish nation despite their feeling that it is a violation of the values of human rights. They seek to minimize the expression of the Jewish nation component in the State of Israel’s internal legal system.  They, therefore,

oppose a Basic Law calling for the State of Israel to be recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This position paper argues the opposite.

Anchoring the notion of Israel as the Jewish nation-state in law is needed not despite- but because of Israel’s commitment to the liberal values of human rights. The point of view, which seeks to prevent people embodying their self-identification in a nation-state, manifests a lack of respect for people and is detrimental to the basic human right to autonomy, identity, and culture. It is this point of view which suppresses human rights and which is seeped in cultural imperialism.  It violates the basic liberal value of respecting each person as a whole. This position paper argues that a liberal nation-state is obligated to safeguard the human rights of minority groups and continually to strike a balance between those rights and the country’s identity as a nation-state, respecting each person’s right to self-identification within the nation-state. Read More

Israel, the Jewish nation, and Judaism

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By Prof. David A. Frankel

Judaism is more than just a religion. Judaism is a way of life based on loyalty to the nation, to its values and history. To be a Jew means to belong to the Jewish people, to the Jewish nation. There is a difference between belonging to a people or nation and identification with a country. The notion of a nation is deeper than that of a country. A person may be a citizen of several countries, but he cannot be part of more than one nation.

The establishment of the State of Israel blurred the concepts and led to misunderstanding by many, as Israeli citizenship does not necessarily equate to membership in the Jewish people. At the same time, at its founding the State of Israel was declared to be the state of the Jewish people and it is primarily defined as a Jewish and democratic state. This definition is also grounded in the country’s Basic Laws. One of the results of these blurred lines is that the country’s character must embrace Judaism in its widest sense. Read More

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