"If the value of equality is not anchored in the legislation alongside the other enumerated national characteristics of the state, the law may eventually erode Israel's democratic character."
In advance of today’s discussion in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on the Nation State Bill, the Israel Democracy Institute asserts that if the value of equality is not anchored in the legislation alongside the other enumerated national characteristics of the state, the law may eventually erode Israel's democratic character.
Dr. Amir Fuchs, Head of the Defending Democratic Values Program at IDI, notes that the current wording of Nation State Bill is even more problematic than the original version: the text omits the portion which states that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the values of the Declaration of Independence; the status of Arabic as a officially recognized language is no longer cited; there is no longer a mention of the state’s obligation to preserve the unique connection with the Jewish diaspora and instead has been replaced with a vague reference to the necessity of "activities in the Diaspora to maintain this connection."
In addition, the clause stating that the state has the right to establish separate communities, on the basis of religion and nationality, paves the way for acts of exclusion and racism against the Arab minority, as well as perpetuating the insularity of Israel’s “tribes”. We wholeheartedly agree with President Rivlin’s rare reference this morning to the bill, saying that “the proposal can be used as a weapon against us by our enemies in the future”.
Dr. Fuchs adds that there is no country in the world that has not specifically enumerated the right of equality in its constitution - therefore, it is difficult to understand why the authors of this bill insist not to include this important value. The right to equality is embedded in the values mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, which has been the definitive document framing the character of the State of Israel for the past 70 years.