Press Release

'Yes' to a Nation-State, 'No' to a Nationalistic State!

The Israel Democracy Institute Weighs in as Knesset Prepares to Debate Nation-State Law

Leaders of the Israel Democracy Institute call for alternative proposal that would place nation-state of the Jewish people on equal footing with democratic obligation to equality for all Israeli citizens.

With a parliamentary debate on the Nation-State Law scheduled for Wednesday, leaders of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) are calling for the passage of an alternative proposal that would place Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people on equal footing with the country's democratic obligation to equality for all its citizens, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute and IDI Vice Presidents Professors Yedidia Stern and Mordechai Kremnitzer wrote in a letter to government ministers and Knesset members: "There is no need to codify the principle that Israel is a Jewish nation-state because it is already entrenched in the Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws. If the intention here is to initiate a legislative process that shapes Israel's character, such a move must encompass the overall character of the state, not just one aspect. Therefore, the law should also reassert the recognition of minorities and the rights of various groups in Israeli society to develop their culture, religion, language and heritage."

IDI's leadership added that "a one-sided move will tip the balance between Israel's Jewish and democratic components, thereby deepening the existing rifts in Israeli society. [The nation-state law] will not only affect court rulings and weaken the courts' ability to protect the rights of Israeli citizens, it will also inflict symbolic harm. As a result, the ability of different groups in Israel to lead shared lives will be damaged. "

Therefore, Plesner, Stern, and Kremnitzer call on government ministers and MKs to not give up on the important work of defining Israel's Jewish national identity, as the country approaches the 70th anniversary of its establishment. Rather, the goal should be to formulate a law in a thorough, comprehensive, welcoming and respectful manner. Such a legislative initiative should be guided by the desire to build as broad of a societal and political consensus as possible. Specifically, IDI's proposal is based on the preamble to the "Constitution by Consensus" project, written at IDI by a team headed by retired Supreme Court President Justice Meir Shamgar.


Read IDI's detailed alternative to the nation-state bill currently being debated