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Knesset bill would formalize second-class status for Arab citizens

New Knesset bill aims to have “Jewish nature” of state preferred over democracy, cancel official status of Arabic, and have Jewish law “guide” courts’ rulings

There is one talking point repeated in every hasbara (the Hebrew term for state sponsored propaganda) talk given by an Israeli representative, or in every booklet your campus’ Jewish Agency representative might hand you. It has to do with “the full rights” of Palestinian citizens in Israel, including the status of Arabic as an official language, and the equality of all Israeli citizens under the law. This is the heart of “the only democracy in the Middle East” claim.

Those who are familiar with Israeli society, know that Arab citizens are discriminated against in many ways: Some of these ways are formal—like the new bill allowing segregated communities; the law against family unification of Arab citizens; the absentees’ property laws, and more—while other are a matter of practice, such as the fact that some government agencies won”t hire Arabs, or the that the courts mete out harsher sentences to Arab citizens convicted of the same crimes as Jewish citizens.

Yet a new bill, signed by members of opposition and coalition alike, aims to strip Israel even of the appearance of democracy. If passed (it has a fair chance), this law will determine that in any case of contradiction between democratic values and the Jewish nature of the state, the Jewish element will prevail. More specifically, the bill aims to cancel the status of Arabic as  one of Israel’s two official languages; it orders the state to develop communities for Jews only; and in a passage that seems to be taken from the Iranian constitution, declares that when there is no law referring to a certain case, courts should rule in the spirit of halakha, or Jewish religious jurisprudence.

Haaretz reports:

The bill, initiated by MKs Avi Dichter (Kadima ), Zeev Elkin (Likud ) and David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ), and supported by 20 of the 28 Kadima MKs, would make democratic rule subservient to the state’s definition as “the national home for the Jewish people.”

The legislation, a private member’s bill, won support from Labor, Atzamaut, Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union lawmakers.

Sources at the Knesset say the law currently has broad support, and they believe it will be passed during the Knesset’s winter session.

The bill is meant to pass a “basic law”—Israel’s substitute for a constitution—and will require a special majority to change it in the future.

People were concerned about the Boycott Law, which aimed to eliminate one of the most well known methods of opposition to the occupation, or by the Nakba Law, which prohibits certain institutions from marking the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. But this new bill takes the game to a whole new level, by formally making 20 percent of Israel’s citizens—a native population that predates the state—as second class  citizens. They won’t be segregated in the way blacks were in the South or in South Africa (yet?), but Israel won’t even pretend to be their state anymore, and they will have even fewer rights than Jewish citizens. Israel will truly become, to use a phrase by Ahmad Tibi, “a Jewish democracy: Democracy for Jews and a Jewish state for everyone else.”

What will the hasbara army do then?

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  • COMMENTS

    1. As self-evident as it is to you, you should spend more space arguing why the democratic component of the Democratic and Jewish in the balance of the basis law should be emphasized, and to what extent.

      I say 80-20. That still adds up to a state for all its citizens, in which the Jewish features and institutions are insignificant.

      Some say 100-0, in which a state for all its citizens means no Jewish identity, even Jewish cultural majority. Hebrew as an official language only because a large portion of the population speak it.

      Some say 40-60, that the Jewish state is still an island in an Arab sea, and that if mostly democratic, then shortly there won’t be any Jewish state, or even Jewish district.

      Some say 0-100, that halacha is the law of the land, and only halacha, as contradictory and self-declarative as it is. That these are the Joshua times.

      Why do you think that democratic is more important than the Jewish in the dual identity?

      I’m asking to urge you argue for it, so that the numbers and the emphasis increases.

      Reply to Comment
    2. name

      There is no Israeli law that defines official languages.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Vickie

      So, Israel will officially legalize their racism. Interesting.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Equality under law supposedly exists on the basis of citizenship. However, nationality exists as a legal basis of discrimination, contradicting any pretense of equality through democratic citizenship. Second-class status is thus already formalized through fundamental laws such as the World Zionist Organization – Jewish Agency (Status) Law of 1952 and the Nationality Law (often confusingly translated to citizenship in English, thus muddling the important distinction between citizenship and nationality in Israel).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Steve Coplan

      I have hoped for the legislative efforts to tie itself up in knots with defining Jewish, but then I realized that I was being naive. When these legislators say Jewish, they mean not Arab. Defining who you are in terms of what you are not is not anti-democratic, it is fascist.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Omar Ibrahim

      That is good news!
      Another stone in the edifice of the false image Israel has acquired with many.
      Truth is and begets its own reward and the truth of Israel should be known to one and all.
      For a nation/state that came into being through the dislocation, dispossession , disfranchisement and subjugation of the indigenous population (the 80% pre colonial rule majority) of the land they coveted that is only to be expected!
      News worthy ? YES
      Surprising? NO

      Reply to Comment
    7. Omar Ibrahim

      What is “initial confirmation”?
      Pray explain.

      Reply to Comment
    8. The Haaretz article also states: “it also proposes that Hebrew would be the only official language in Israel, as opposed to the present situation – based on current mandatory law, Arabic and English are also recognized as official languages.”
      Would that mean that future hasbara must be in Hebrew? I can’t wait.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Borg

      Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi dont see themselves as Israelis, so why should we?

      Reply to Comment
    10. directrob

      @Borg,
      It does not matter how they see themselves or how you see them, it is a universal human right to be treated as equal for the law.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Danny

      I wonder how much longer Israel can go on behaving like this before western countries finally have enough with it and begin taking South Africa-like measures against it. Israeli apartheid has been going on for years, but only recently has Israel decided to do away with pretenses and is unmasking its racist face for the entire world to see. One thing Vladimir Lieberman can be congratulated for is initiating the unmasking of Israel’s ugly face.

      Reply to Comment
    12. @Noam – the most troubling thing about this bill to me is not what it purports to codify (as a guide for the courts).

      No, most troubling is that, given the contents of this bill, it has been endorsed by a broad coalition (including Likud, Labor and Kadima) and has a decent chance of passing.

      As Israelis rise up against their leaders, many (including myself) hope that the undeniable re-ordering that is occurring in Israeli society will lead to electoral shifts away from these leaders who the people are currently rejecting.

      Reply to Comment
    13. David

      Re Richard Witty’s remarks: whatever the proportion of “Jewishness” to democracy, we are still left with the fact that a religious state is not democratic. I am continually amazed that American Jews, we who are such big supporters of secular democracy at home, are such ambivalent and frankly disappointing supporters of democracy in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Palestinian

      @ Borg , do you have a solution for their problem ? facts : they are the naitves and will never leave their homeland , if someone is to leave then let it be those who came last.And save your mythology , no need to preach it here.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Sylvia

      halakhic state? iranian wilayat al fiqh? Are you sure you’re not making that up?
      Why would Avi Dichter – to my knowledge not particularly religious and a speaker of arabic (which by the way helped him greatly in his career)want a halakhic state and the demotion of arabic?
      .
      For Arabic speakers on this thread, here is an Avi Dichter interview last march with Russia Today in Arabic on the Arab springs and the region’s politics.
      .
      (To be clear, I’m not a fan of Avi Dichter – but I’m not a fan of untruths either.)

      Reply to Comment
    16. Sylvia

      Arabic is mandatory in public schools till 10th grade for all, at which point students have the option to take another language or continue with Arabic.
      Last year, the Minister of Education has announced what he sees as an “improvement” in MS Arabic teaching methods: MSA classes are to be conducted in the Palestinian Arabic dialect to students wwho know neither one!
      This I think is the ultimate in stupidity as anyone who knows anything about foreign language education can imagine. Those students will probably end up with a rather mediocre level in Arabic, in both the dialect and the MS.
      .
      The immediate consequence is that only Arab Israelis, who are the ones who speak the dialect, can teach it. All the others will have to eventually learn another trade.
      .
      Further, this will cause all the Judeo-Arabic dialects brought by the Jews of Arab countries to be forgotten. A cultural holocaust.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Deïr Yassin

      @ ya falastini
      I think ‘Borg’ might be Lieberman himself hiding behind the name of a famous tennis player.
      Didn’t Yvet say “We can’t continue to ignore issues like Hanin Zoabi who completely identifies with the other side”.
      To his plans of transfer Ahmed Tibi answered: “We aren’t calling for the expulsion of citizens from within the State of Israel, but if we were, then whoever came in the last century should leave first”.

      Do Hasbara have to be state sponsored ? What about that army of volontary, brainwashed but ‘idealistic’ people who literally invade all blogs treating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what is their ‘work’ called ?

      By the way, I wonder if Sylvia is memeber of that Hasbara-army ? Trying to sell us Avi Dichter. We don’t care whether he speaks Arabis, the important thing is what he has to say and not in what language he says it.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Noam W

      This is by far the most depressing piece of legislation to come out of this depressing Knesset.

      It has immense symbolic consequence and will deeply deeply erode even the last vestiges of democracy in Israel.

      Sylvia, I don’t know what Dichter (ex-Likud) has for or against Arabic or Halakhaic law – but I can read the bill and see what it says.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Sylvia

      Deir Yassin
      I see that unlike Ahmed Tibi, you are prudent. Which is why you felt you had to add to his quote “in the last century”. Because what he really said “whoever came last should go first” could also be clamored by natives in 22 Arab-conquered territories and apparently, you are aware of it.
      .
      I don’t know if by calling me hasbarist you were trying to insult me. But you can call me “hasbarist” (explainer) if you permit me to call you by the arabic equivalent “di’ayist” (propagandist).

      Reply to Comment
    20. Dr.Bill

      Deir Yassin,
      or maybe he’s one of the Borg from one of the Startrek series, you know, “resistance is futile”.
      But I’m happy to see that Zionism has finally reached its absurd conclusion after all these years of pretending to be a haven, a refuge, the ONLY democracy in the middle east. They are finally admitting it. It’s a Jewish state for all Jews all the world over, whether they like it or not, and will speak in the name of all Jews all the world over whether they like it or not, and when all of their actions are so repugnant to the world, the world will respond, by once again discriminating against all Jews all over the world whether they like it or not;

      …..and then the Zionists will finally be happy.

      They can go to hell.

      BDS,BDS,BDS

      Reply to Comment
    21. Taoist

      Aren’t we glad Israel is the ONLY democracy in the Middle East, like South Africa was for Africa a few years ago? Where would we be without that beacon of freedom and democracy that is Israel? Now, as Netanyahu put it during his greeting to Muslims for Ramadan, Israeli-Arabs can go and teach those pesky Arabs the real meaning of “democracy” a-la Israel. O a-la old South Africa, which is about the same.

      Aren’t we making progress….

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    22. Deïr Yassin

      @ Sylvia
      No, I didn’t add anything. “Whoever came last should go first” is okay with me, but as I wanted to quote him correctly, and as I don’t know Hebrew, I looked up the quote. In Haaretz and elsewhere they wrote ‘in the last century’
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/lieberman-peace-talks-must-reassess-israeli-arabs-right-to-citizenship-1.314596
      Ahmad Tibi is quoted somewhere in the middle. But as I said; came last go first, is just fine with me. Poor Moldavia, if they’re going to take in Yvet. I’ve heard they have enough troubles already.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Taoist

      @ ENGELBERT LUITSZ

      LOL!!!! If they do hasbara in Hebrew, that would give away Lieberman’s “cyber-soldiers,” “talkbackers,” or “megaphone users.” Hebrew of English, it’s easy to spot them.

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    24. weinstein henry

      “When these legislators say Jewish, they mean not Arab”: that’s it, Steve Coplan. Sharp analysis, with just a few words.

      Maybe the real elephant in the room in Israel is not the Occupation, which is very visible, but the corruption of the word Jewish. Because it reveals not only the corruption of language by politicians but, in the first place, the corruption of Judaism by politics in Israel.

      It must be something, to be a student in Law, in Israel. Still no Constitution, too secular. And all these mushroom-’Jewish’ bills, which look like Russian dolls.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Sylvia

      “This is by far the most depressing piece of legislation to come out of this depressing Knesset.”
      of this Knesset only?
      .
      1. According to Dichter’s page , this is the formula used in the Basel Declaration, the Declaration of Independence, and “National State of the Jewish People” is exactly the language of Amanat Kineret in 2001 – remember its architects included Yuli Tamir, Yossi Beilin etc, who are from the extreme left. The first paragraph of the Amanat Kineret reads: “the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people”. Did you lament the Amanat Kineret in the same way?
      Yet, Dichter writes, the description of Israel as “the National State for the Jewish people” has never been anchored in the Basic Law.
      .
      So why now? It appears that it is a response to the current attempts to delegitimize Israel.
      .
      Here is what he says:
      “The necessity for a basic law: Israel as a national State of the Jewish People, is reinforced especially at a time when there is a will to cancel the right of the Jewish people to a national home in their country and the recognition of the State of Israel as a national State of the Jewish people. To anchor the Jewish character of the State of Israel within the basic law, will make it possible to reach a broad consensus in future regarding the establishment of a complete, comprehensive Constitution.”
      נחיצותו של חוק יסוד: ישראל מדינת הלאום של העם היהודי, מקבלת משנה תוקף במיוחד בזמנים בהם יש המבקשים לבטל את זכותו של העם היהודי לבית לאומי בארצו, ואת ההכרה במדינת ישראל כמדינת הלאום של העם היהודי. עיגון אופייה היהודי של מדינת ישראל בחוק יסוד, יאפשר להגיע בעתיד להסכמה רחבה בכינונה של חוקה שלמה ומקיפה

      .
      But to return to my remark above, I see nothing to suggest something so sinister that it “seems to be taken from the Iranian constitution”. It is actually in total agreement with former Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak as described in his book.
      שופט בחברה דמוקרטית, עמ’ 89, .

      .
      I didn’t get deep into the Arabic part yet, but I think it would be useful to specify that Arabic has never been “an official language” per se in Israel, although in practice efforts have been made to make it easier for the ter od daily life, speak Arabic more than they do Hebrew (matriculation exam instructions, for exemple, are also in Arabic, most official documents, road signs, etc.)
      What Dichter says on the matter, is that this law gives it “special status”.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Noam W

      There is a vast vast difference between the declarations of a people in exile who yearn for a homeland where they will be entitled to self determination, and the legislating power, in a basic law no less, of the Knesset.

      Dichter’s words stand on their head – he says that this will make it possible to reach broad consensus? Only if by broad consensus you mean a consensus of the Jewish population.

      Palestinians are not guests in Israel, they are citizens like you and me who deserve to be part of the country.

      And saying that the section about the Arab language does not change the law is playing innocent. That section, like the rest of the bill, is an attempt to marginalize and alienate the Israeli Palestinian population. If it was so inconsequential, Dichter would not have put it into his proposal. But it is consequential, and its only purpose to shove the Jewishness of Israel down the Palestinians’ throat.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Bosko

      @Dr Bill – “But I’m happy to see that Zionism has finally reached its absurd conclusion after all these years of pretending to be a haven, a refuge, the ONLY democracy in the middle east”
      Why are you so happy Dr Bill? Is it Schadenfreude? Well then, don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. Israel is here to stay as the state for the Jewish people but which will also look after it’s minorities.
      Is Israel a perfect democracy? Of course not. Is there no discrimination in Israel? Of course there is. But there is also a 100 year old war going on. So, yes Israel is an imperfect democracy. It is not the black and white cartoon state that you and your ilk pretend it to be.
      But then again, show me a perfect democracy anywhere where discrimination does not exist. Many western countries tolerate exclusive golf clubs where Jews and other minorities will never be allowed to be members and unlike Israel, those countries are not at war. Yet I would still describe those Western countries as democracies, albeit imperfect ones.
      You might say that what we are talking about here is state sponsored discrimination. It is arguable either way whether what is proposed is discriminatory or not. But let’s say that it is. Even then, it doesn’t mean the end of democracy in Israel. It just means that some politicians momentarily have their way while they are in power. And when they will get out of power, the other side of politics has the chance to undo bad or stupid laws. That’s how democracy works. One step backwards and two steps forward (sometimes the other way around).
      Now Dr Bill, please show me a country that has perfect democracy with no discrimination and I will show you a liar or a deluded person.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Dr.Bill

      Bosko,
      “golf clubs that discriminate”. Golf clubs, GOLF CLUBS!!! People are fighting for their rights, for substistence, for existence, and that’s what you worry about are fucking country clubs?
      Let me tell you something, people are fighting for their freedom, people are fighting against LEGALIZED DISCRIMINATION, and the example you use is GOLF CLUBS!!!????
      That’s right, that must be right, that’s why people take to the streets, so they can have the right to plunk down $50,000 and more initiation fees so they can sit their fat asses in a golf cart while some caddy schleps their bag all over the place, while their wives sit by the pool until its time for lunch (and according to the club rules they need to consume a minimum of $10,000 worth of meals in the club house over the course of the year) while they discuss which young Korean manicurist(who probably lives in an apartment divided among a dozen other girls) does the best job, and who is going to win the next Dancing with the Stars or American idol, because that’s the only thing these rich over-indulged dimwits have on their feeble brains, and which cabana boy has the best body, because their flabby spouses haven’t seen their junk in years, and besides need that football shaped little blue pill to make it work every once in a while.
      NO THANK YOU. As Groucho Marx once trenchantly said, “I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member.”
      And believe me I know a lot of these rich bastards because they happen to be my neighbors, and they could give a crap about what is really going on in the world, as long as the market is going their way, and the lackeys they put into office keep their own taxes to a minimum, because they have no clue about social responsibility.
      But if you think that should be the penultimate goal that people should aspire to, then YOU MUST BE AN IDIOT.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Bosko

      @Dr Bill – LOL. Now we are getting somewhere. I asked you to show me a country where there is no discrimination. And you come up with personal abuse against me. No problems, you are just anpther internet warrior, please continue to dish it out, I can take it and return your own medicine in kind. But not yet. I will give you a chance to give sensible answers to the points (yes, I said points) because I raised several points, not just the point about golf clubs.
      By the way, please accepty sympathies about your golf club phobia. But no matter what you say, discrimination is discrimination. Whether it is in Israel or elsewhere. Whether it is by Jews, Muslims or Christians. Don’t you think, Dr Bill?
      If you will come back with nothing but personal abuse again, then I would hope that the moderator will issue a polite request for you to abide by the policies of this blog. If not, I too can play your own game.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Mitchell Cohen

      I just read the Hebrew version of the bill and I don’t understand the knee jerk reactions (well aside from the anti-zionist, one staters). The bill says Arabic is granted special status (it doesn’t say this about any other language), it protects the rights of all religions and ethnicities to practice and keep their culture, traditions, religion, etc., all holy sites (of all faiths) will be protected. Other than that, the bill is basically confirming the status quo of Israel since 1948: Law of Return (yes, there is one state in the world where Jews know they can always find refuge, no apologies from me), Jewish holidays are the national holidays (how terrible!), Shabbat is the official day of rest (how terrible!), Hebrew is the national language, while special consideration is given to Arabic speakers (how terrible!), the symbols of the flag are the Star of David and the two stripes symbolizing the tallit (how terrible!), the Jewish Calendar is the offical calendar of the country (how terrible!), Independence Day, Holocaust Memorial Day, and Yom HaZikaron are official holidays as well (how terrible!), and yes, people of one ethnic group or religion (not just Jews) have the right to form a separate community. My gosh, the sky if falling!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    31. directrob

      The European Court of Human Rights protects the universal human rights of many Europeans. The Convention on Human Rights is implicitly part of the legal system. A law that violates human rights will be nulled by the court.
      .
      Only a brave man would dare to compare the human rights of Israeli and the people of these European countries. Jewish people have their human rights better protected within these states than in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Bosko

      “Norway – A teacher working at an adult education center who has been told to stop wearing a Star of David because it “provokes the many Muslim students at the school” in 2004 is now considering legal action against the ban, the Norwegian television network NRK has reported”

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3152397,00.html
      One can only imagine the outcry if an Israeli school would ban the wearing of Muslim or Christian emblems.
      “Swiss ban on minarets causes shockwaves”

      http://www.theage.com.au/world/swiss-ban-on-minarets-causes-shockwaves-20091130-k148.html
      One can only imagine what the reaction would be if Israel did that.

      ‘”Burqa ban’ in France: housewife vows to face jail rather than submit”
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/10/france-burqa-law-kenza-drider

      One can only imagine the reaction if Israel would do that.

      I can think of many other instances of discrimination in Europe against the Roma for instance.
      And I won’t even begin to talk about discrimination against non Muslims, non Arabs in many Arab states.
      Like I said. Discrimination is discrimination whether done by Jews, Muslims or Christians. Humanity has a lot of work to do on that front. Not just Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Deïr Yassin

      @ Mitchell Cohen
      You just forgot to mention that this Jewish State was cretaed on land inhabited by other people and at their costs. That while a Israeli Palestinian is treated as a second-hand – what did I say, third-hand citizen, after the Mizrahi, Falasha and other non-Ashkenazi – you (I think you mentioned somewhere that you’re an American immigrant) or someone like Anastassia Michaeli, a ethnic Russian converted to Judaism, have all the rights.
      If you’d actually found that ‘land without a people for a people without land’, you could have done just as you like.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Mitchell Cohen

      Deir Yassin, is this where I am supposed to become apologetic? It wasn’t aimed for you and the rest of your anti-zionist cohorts (whether Arab, Jewish, or other), but at those who are at least minimal Zionists (even Gush-Shalom, who are in favor of a two state solution), which I am sure that even some of the columnists on this site are, certainly no shortage of posters to this site are. So, your last post to me is irrelevant and you are wasting BOTH our times with it.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Deïr Yassin

      Don’t worry, Michell. My post too wasn’t particlularly aimed at you though I adressed it to you.
      That’s the advantage of a blog: everybody has the right to intervene, and if you only want to permit certain people – sharing your views – to intervene, you should open your OWN blog, with moderartion. So just as you’re profitting of the hospitality of this blog – far from your extremist, supremacist world view – so am I !! And having read Noam for a long time, here and on his own blog, I think he’s closer to my point of view than yours. You’re just another right-winger, intervening on a left-wing blog, telling others to shut up ! Huh, that State you’re living in, surely gives some bad habits !

      Reply to Comment
    36. Mitchell Cohen

      Deir Yassin, right-wing, left-wing, such pat terms. If endorsing the massacre of babies of “colonialists”, like one of your favorite cohorts, is representative of your “views”, then I am proud to be as far away from your “views” as possible. And if 972 decides to ban me or edit/delete my posts, then that is their right. I am not, nor have I told anybody to “shut up”, but I am under no obligation to give EVERY poster the time of day either. So, please spare me the lecture on “hospitality”.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Sylvia

      Deir Yassin
      “That while a Israeli Palestinian is treated as a second-hand – what did I say, third-hand citizen, after the Mizrahi, Falasha and other non-Ashkenazi”
      This is a blatant lie and, from a humanitarian viewpoint, a strictly criminal statement, since not only does it deny the suffering of certain groups, it goes as far as depict them as oppressors.
      This very 972 site, as well as Haaretz are in fact very representative of israeli society. Look at the roll here, how many “mizrahis, or falashas, and other non-Ashkenazi” do you see there? Except for ONE Arab, all are Ashkenazis.
      And look at the champion of human rights, Haaretz.H ow many “mizrahis, falashas and other non-ashkenazis” do you see there? NONE, but they have ONE Arab andd every once in a while they will bring an Arab to vent his views.
      And despite the fact that those “mizrahis, falashas and non-Ashkenazis” represent better than 50% of the TOTAL population, while the Arab population is only 18%, how many of them do you see in the Supreme Court? ONE (1)Mizrahi, ONE (1)Arab, and twelve (12) Ashkenazis.
      This is why the Ashkenazi left likes so much to pit Arab against that nebulae it calls “Jews”. They’re too embarrassed.
      But if you can show me anyone Arab or Ashkenazi, who has done as much time in jail as Wanunu (a Moroccan-born) for the same offense, I’ll eat my computer.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Noam W

      Mitchell – “special” status is a sure way to ensure that no protection is given to what ever is given the “special” status. It puts whichever thing is given the “special” status outside the realm of regular protection into a nebulous nether world of the whims of the government officials who make decisions – exactly the opposite of what the full protection of the law does – take the power to decide out of the reach of politicians.

      This bill is such an excellent example of this – the flag and the national anthem are to be protected, being taken out of the political debate so that legislators later in time will have a very difficult time trying to change them (both symbolically and procedurally). Arab language on the other hand is purposefully (again both symbolically and procedurally) left to the discretion of, not only politicians, but also bureaucrats who can decide for themselves what its “special” status means.

      When you add this to the provisions that discuss the Jewish nature of the state, you can also understand what a judge is meant to think when she or he interpret the “special” status of the language.

      Sylvia, you don’t have to eat your computer because Marcus Klingberg was sentenced to twenty years, but served only sixteen in prison and the rest under house arrest, compared with Vaanunu’s eighteen – for the same offense. But I think we can put that point aside (though I don’t quite understand what point you were trying to Make).

      Reply to Comment
    39. directrob

      @Bosko,
      I do not think Europeans are any better than Israeli, just that they have a better chance to fight violations of their human rights. I do not think the Burqa law will survive the European Human rights court. I guess the teachers case is much weaker. In the case of the minarets we will have to wait until a minaret is actually forbidden.
      .
      Anyway could you imagine what happens if Israel woud be one of the state parties and Palestinians and Israeli citizens could go to the European human rights court?

      Reply to Comment
    40. Deïr Yassin

      @ Michell
      If you don’t like people to comment on your comments, don’t comment or find a place where you’re among peers.
      I’m only endorsing what I’ve written myself, just as I don’t make you responsable for what every Settler-Taliban writes here.
      I don’t make any distinction between the three children of the Fogel family and the nine children killed during the raid on Salah Shehadeh, or the 352 killed during Cast Lead. Do you ????

      Reply to Comment
    41. Bosko

      France has a significant Arab population yet it has only one official language which is French. Is France a non democratic state?

      Reply to Comment
    42. Bosko

      @Directorb – “not think Europeans are any better than Israeli, just that they have a better chance to fight violations of their human rights”
      I am not so sure about that statement. I would like to get the opinions of some Roma people.
      By the way, the Swiss already stopped the building of the Minaret.

      Reply to Comment
    43. directrob

      As for Roma see (more action needed): http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?page=0&cikk=3613
      .
      The Swiss stopped the building of Minarets but as soon as one is forbidden the case can still go to the court. (Look at the ruling, not the news about the ruling).
      .
      So, more to the point, do you think this bill is ok? Is it better for Israel to implement the bill?

      Reply to Comment
    44. Mitchell Cohen

      @Noam W, was there a special clause until now that stated Arabic was an official language of the country? Yet, Arabic appears on virtually every street sign in Israel, Arabic speakers conduct their schools in Arabic, Arab Knesset members are allowed to address the Knesset in Arabic. Would it have been better if Arabic wasn’t mentioned at all in this bill (like every other language other than Hebrew)? I don’t see the Arabic schools closing down or Arabic coming off the street sign. I certainly don’t see any language police in Israel any time soon.
      @Deir Yassin, I have no problem with my comments being commented on. However, if a poster and myself don’t even have any common ground (for example, not even believing Israel should exist) then there is no point in continuing to converse with such a poster. And I don’t know if you are any more “among peers” around here than I am, as I have seen you turn off your share of posters (including some hardcore “peaceniks”). At any rate, to answer your last ?, my heart goes out to any child caught in a cross fire in this conflict from either side….

      Reply to Comment
    45. Noam W

      Mitchel, I agree with you that not having Arab as defined is far from perfect, though through costum, it has become regarded as an official language.

      But defining it as not official is much worse.

      And again, I think to view this provision in isolation of the other provisions of this bill, both substantitvely and symbolically, is to miss the forest for the trees.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Sylvia

      There are many things that I find problematic, the national anthem for example. It is not neutral enough and I can understand that some minorities have a hard time relating to it.

      But granting Arabic “special status” anchored in basic law is not one of them. What most posters don’t know, is that there are other languages competing with Arabic for that special status (Russian, English) and for that same “special status” purse. Think about it.

      Noam W, I was commenting on Deir Yassin’s specific comment which I quoted. Why is it a problem?
      As to Klinger, you should make a small effort to go out and check your facts: Klinger went to live in Paris with his daughter and his son-in-law of a spy, while Wanunu after his release was under house arrest forbidden to leave the country and talk to journalists, with occasional returns to jail because of a violation or another. That makes it better than 26 years, going on 30. This when the maximum permitted by law is 18 years, whicch he’s dome in full. And with all this, his offense is by no stretch of imagination as serious as Klinger’s – or Klinger’s son in law who went on to teach at the Hebrew University.

      Reply to Comment
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