Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
New Israeli Law Calls Israel as a Jewish
State, While Half of the Population Are Muslims and Christians!
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May
A Curious National Home
PRESENT Israeli government coalition consists of 67 (out of 120) members
of the Knesset.
Each member wants to be elected again (and again
In order to be reelected, he or she must attract the
attention of the public.
How? The simplest way is to propose a
new law. A bill so outrageous, that the media cannot possible ignore it.
This sets up a natural competition. To draw attention, each new
bill must be a bit more outrageous than the last. The sky is the limit.
THE LAST bill, concocted by a Member who is an
ex-secret service chief, is called "Israel – the National State of the
In general parlance, the Jewish People consists
of all the Jews in the world, more than half of whom live outside Israel
and are citizens of other states. They are not asked if they want the
State of Israel to represent them. Goes without asking.
Israeli ambassadors everywhere are considered by many a kind of
unofficial overlord of the local Jewish community.
the Arab citizens of Israel, who constitute slightly more than 20%?
Well, they remain citizens, but the state does not belong to them.
SO WHAT does the proposed bill say?
First of all, it abolishes
the status of Arabic as an "official language", a status it has enjoyed
since Israel was founded. Hebrew will reign supreme - and alone.
Israel has no written constitution. The Supreme Court has created a kind
of virtual constitution, resting on several "basic laws". A Knesset
majority can overturn any of these at any time.
The basic legal
assumption until now has been that Israel is a "Jewish and Democratic
State", both attributes of equal status. The new law will change that.
Both attributes will remain intact, but "Jewish" will become more
important than "democratic" and trump it if there is a contradiction, as
there frequently is.
This week Binyamin Netanyahu announced
that he has adopted this bill and will push it through the Knesset in
two months time. No problem.
WHY IS there no problem?
Because, basically, there is no ideological opposition.
is, of course, an Arab faction (split into three sub-factions:
nationalist, religious and communist). But most Jewish opposition
members would rather be seen in the Knesset cafeteria in the company of
a rabid fascist Jewish member than an Arab one.
So if Netanyahu
wants to ram the bill through, it will indeed become the law of the
WHAT DOES "Jewish" mean? Is it a national or a religious
The average Israeli will answer: both, of course.
It can be used in the one sense or the other, as expedience demands.
Zionism was basically a process of attempting to transform an
ancient ethno-religious community into a modern nation. When the bill
says that Israel is the "nation-state of the Jewish people" it means all
the Jews around the world. "Nation" and "people" (and religion) are
considered synonyms. We are all Jews, aren't we?
What about the
US Jew who feels he belongs to the American nation? What about the
Canadian Jew who is a complete atheist and treats his Jewishness as a
quaint reminder of his grandparents? Or a hypothetical black
South-African whose parents have been converted to Judaism by their
white Jewish master? Or a Russian Jew, whose parents have adopted the
Orthodox Christian faith?
They are Jews, all of them. Jewish
religious law says that "a Jew, even if he commits a sin, is still a
Jew." Adopting the Christian – or any other - faith is certainly a sin,
but the convert still remains a Jew, whether he wants it or not.
The Nation-State of the Jewish People belongs to all of them. Or,
rather, they all belong to the Nation State of the Jewish People.
ALL THIS has very little to do with the original Zionist ideology.
Theodor Herzl, a thoroughly naïve person, believed that all the Jews in
the world would come to the Jewish State. Those who did not would cease
to be Jews.
Even to David Ben-Gurion, an early Zionist, the
idea that an American Zionist leader could continue to live in the USA
was an abomination. His colleagues had a hard time convincing him that
it was bad policy to tell that to the American Jews when you need their
Ben-Gurion would certainly not have agreed to a
definition that would have turned Israel – his Israel! – into the state
of these Jews, and turned them into quasi-citizens of the Jewish
National State. God (in whom he did not believe) forbid.
ABOUT secular Jews in Israel?
Well the first question is whether
there really are "secular" Jews in Israel.
All the Jews who grew
up in Israel are products of the Jewish educational system, based on the
Bible. This produces in their mind a set of ideological certitudes that
cannot be eradicated.
The People of Israel was born in a
conversation between God and Abraham in a place located in today's Iraq.
This is of course a legend, like a large part of the Hebrew Bible,
including the forefathers, the exodus and the kingdoms of David and
Solomon. (Their existence is disproved, inter alia, by their total
absence from the voluminous correspondence of Egyptian rulers and spies
in the Land of Canaan.)
But historical evidence is unimportant
here. The fact is that every Jewish child in Israel carries the Bible
deep in their consciousness. Meaning: Jews are special. Jews are unique.
It's "them" and "us". The whole world against us.
Reuven Wimmer has sent me a list of the basic beliefs of the average
"secular" Israeli. It goes a follows:
He does not observe the
Shabbat. He uses his car, buys, travels and goes to the seashore on the
But he believes in God.
He does not eat kosher, but
prefers kosher restaurants.
He goes at least once a year– on Yom
Kippur - to synagogue
He marries and divorces at the Rabbinate.
does not like Arabs very much.
He does not want to be identified as a
Leftist, but does not vote for the Right.
He is not in favor of
separation between state and religion.
He has served in the army,
loves the army and is proud of the state.
He is for Two States for
Two Peoples, provided this does not harm the settlements.
He does not
take part in demonstrations or any other political activities.
Since that is so, no real protests against the bill can be expected. We
will call ourselves the Nation State of the Jewish People. Halleluyah.
(For those who do not know: Halleluyah is Hebrew for "Praise God".)
WHAT ABOUT the close to two million Arabs who are citizens of the
National State of the Jewish People?
Up to now, no
attention-hungry Member of the Knesset has yet concocted a bill to take
away their citizenship.
So they will remain citizens of the
state, which belongs to another people. For the time being.
will have a National State for the Jewish people, in which the majority
of the world’s Jews are not citizens, and in which two million
non-Jewish Arabs will be citizens, in whose "eternal capital",
Jerusalem, there live some hundreds of thousands of Arab inhabitants who
are not citizens, which militarily occupies the West Bank with some 2.25
million Arabs, and which indirectly controls the lives of another two
million Arabs in the Gaza Strip.
Altogether, there live now in historical Palestine some 7
million Jews and some 7 million Arabs.
curious National Home.
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