September 24, 2020

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Jewish Rights to Israel (Part 2): Israel’s Nation State Law (Forest Rain)

Jewish Rights to Israel (Part 2):
Israel’s Nation State Law

 (part 1 here)

Israel’s system of Basic Laws is kind of weird. There is a saying in Israel that the things that are temporary are the ones that are most permanent and that is how we ended up with Basic Laws rather than a constitution.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence stated that a formal constitution will be formulated and adopted no later than 1 October 1948 but the war that ensued the day after the declaration was made got in the way, one thing led to another and eventually we ended up with Basic Laws – constitutional laws of the State of Israel, intended to be draft chapters of a future constitution and act as a de facto constitution until that time. Basic Laws can only be changed by a supermajority vote in the Knesset (with varying requirements for different Basic Laws and sections). Many of these laws are based on the individual liberties that were outlined in the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, protecting the freedom and equal rights of Israeli enjoys super-legal status, giving the Supreme Court the authority to disqualify any law contradicting it, as well as protection from Emergency Regulations.

While the status, importance and legitimacy of the Jewish State clearly defined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence (see Part 1), until very recently, there was no law to safeguard the rights of the State of Israel as a Jewish State. In cases of legal questions, Israeli courts could not bring into consideration the importance of protecting the future of the Jewish State because there was no law on which to base such rulings. In order to amend this imbalance, a new Basic Law was passed: Israel – The nation state of the Jewish people.

The new law sparked an uproar, mostly within the Jewish world. The question is, why? Is there something wrong with the law? In order to address these questions, we must first examine the content of the law. It is short and written in very clear language.   

The following is the full content of the Basic Law:

1. The State of Israel

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