Aug. 8, 2018
As Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Advisor for World Communities, part of my job is to listen to what people around the world have to say. Much of what I have heard from critics following the passage of Basic Law: Israel – Nation State of the Jewish People is mistaken and misinformed. The accusations about the new law’s effects on Israeli democracy have no connection to the actual content or context of the law.
The new Basic Law was passed to fill a constitutional void. Israel, like the United Kingdom, lacks a written constitution and instead relies on a set of basic laws. Israel already has basic laws to protect individual freedoms (such as Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty). Israel lacked a basic law defining the identity and purpose of the state.
During the seven-year debate surrounding the Nation State Law, there was a broad consensus that a basic law was needed to define the identity of the country. However, the new basic law does not contradict or supersede the basic laws that protect and guarantee individual rights of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender.
The new law does not erode a single right or protection of any minority. It actually reaffirms Israel’s commitment to minority groups.
The new law also, for the first time, constitutionally enshrines Arabic as a language with “special status.” It affirms that “the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect will not be harmed.”
See also Text: Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People (Jerusalem Post)