Supreme Court validates the Nation-State law, Israel belongs only to Jews
We have no other ways to go. The High Court of Justice, with its 11 judges, is the highest level in the Israeli legal system and unfortunately has legitimized the nation-state law “.
Lawyer Mayssana Morani of the Adalah legal action center does not throw in the towel. Still, she knows that the fundamental law against which she wrote the petition presented to the highest judges is now an absolute reality. It will be difficult to question it if they do not intervene in Israel’s profound political and ideological transformations. And at the moment, nothing indicates that this can happen anytime soon.
Two days ago, the court validated the fundamental law passed by the Knesset precisely three years ago that defines Israel as the state of the Jewish nation and not of all its citizens, many of whom (about 21%) are Arabs. Ten of the 11 judges – the only exception being George Karra, the only Arab in the court – argued that the nation-state does not contradict Israel’s democratic character.
“This basic law is only a chapter of our constitution that is taking shape and does not negate Israel’s character as a democratic state,” Esther Hayut, the court’s president, wrote in the ruling. An interpretation strongly contested by the Arab minority and several Jewish Israelis because it affirms the Jewish ownership of the State of Israel, denounces the civil rights centers. It will represent a primary source for judgments of the lower courts that could discriminate against non-Jewish citizens in the assignment of state lands and the public sphere. Her text also does not contain the word “equality,” which is also included in Israel’s declaration of independence.
“A rule that affirms the Jewish nature of Israel is superior to the democratic values of the state. If previously Israel called itself Jewish and democratic, it is now the state of the Jewish nation. It belongs to every Jew in the world but not to its Arab citizens”. So said to the manifesto years ago, after the Knesset vote, the esteemed Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell (who passed away last year).
A judgment shared today by Mayssana Morani. “The Israeli leaders – she tells us – repeat that the nature of the State of Israel is Jewish and democratic. But for those who work for rights, democracy, and equality, this statement contains an oxymoron. There is an intrinsic contradiction between declaring Israel the state of the Jews and not of all its citizens and at the same time proclaiming it democratic. It assigns, in black and white, a different status to Jewish citizens than to non-Jews”.
Among its various points, the nation-state law states that the biblical Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jews and that the State of Israel was founded within it. That implies that non-Jewish citizens have no right to claim their belonging to that same land. In practical terms, a Jew who lives in Washington and has never lived in Israel can boast rights and belong, unlike an Israeli Arab citizen who has also lived with his family for generations in his historic land. It also states that the State of Israel “sees the development of the Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to promote its consolidation.”
That does not apply to Arab citizens. Everything is regular for the justice minister Gideon Saar who has welcomed the decision of the supreme court. The nation-state, Saar tweeted, is “an important law that enshrines the essence and character of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.” On the other hand, the disappointment of Ayman Odeh, leader of the United Arab List, is intense. “We will continue to fight until we achieve full equality for all citizens, true justice, and true democracy,” he promised.