Press Release

Letter to the Israeli Government on the Nation State Bill

IDI experts on MK Avi Dichter’s version of the Nation-State Law, which was passed by the Knesset last month: “It destroys the delicate balance in legislation between the State of Israel’s Jewish and democratic components, and endangers the country’s character”.

Illustration | Flash 90

Prior to the vote on the Nation-State Law, the Israel Democracy Institute sent government ministers a professional opinion written by two of its legal experts, Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs, urging them to reject the bill.

In the introduction to the professional opinion, Prof. Kremnitzer and Dr. Fuchs note that even though they agree that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people — a view shared by most of the Israeli public —in the absence of a constitution, just passing a Basic Law could destroy the delicate balance between the Jewish and democratic components of the State of Israel.

Prof. Kremnitzer and Dr. Fuchs note that the law anchors Israel’s Jewish identity without doing the same for other basic rights, such as freedom of expression. They also state that since civil rights in other Basic Laws, such as: Human Dignity and Liberty, are not reinforced in the Nation-State Law, the legal significance might be that Israeli legislation gives preferential treatment to Jewish identity.

It also appears that the law detracts from the rights of the Arab minority not only symbolically but also in substance. For example, the law downgrades Arabic from an official language to a language with “special status.” Additionally the Law which defines the character of the state home to all Jews, makes some Jews feel more at home than others, amongst those it alienates are Diaspora Jews.

The researchers therefore call for the law to be amended, as it may damage the delicate balance between Israel’s democratic and Jewish components.