Critics of Israel's Nation-State Law Misunderstand the Country's Constitutional System

Lester Mason
August 9, 2018

Nevertheless, both sides in this dispute agree on one thing: each Basic Law is merely one article in Israel's constitution or constitution-to-be.

Last week, the left-wing Meretz party petitioned the court against the law, claiming it violated a basic law passed in 1992 that guarantees "human dignity" for all citizens of Israel.

Israel has come under global criticism since passing the Basic Law, which has also come to be known as the "Jewish Nation-State" law.

Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, warned of an "earthquake" that would occur, in the case that the Israeli High Court of Justice decides to overturn the controversial Jewish Nation-State law.

On Tuesday, Arab-Israeli leaders filed a petition with the country's Supreme Court against the nation-state law.

The petitioners run the gamut of Arab Israeli representative groups, including the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, the umbrella body of Arab Israeli organizations; lawmakers of the Joint List in the Knesset; and the committee of Arab council heads and mayors.

Greenberg addressed critics of the law who say that it infringes on religious freedom, saying that the law "relates only to the national rights of the Jewish people and does not address religious questions or prescribe an official religion".


Arab citizens account for some 21 percent of Israel's more than 8.8 million population; they have equal voting rights, freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly, but many have long complained of discrimination.

Tuesday's statement from Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, says the law "has distinct apartheid characteristics" and denies "civil and national rights of Palestinians in their homeland". "[The law also] demotes Arabic from its previous status as an official language and declares that Arabic will not be an official language in this land for the first time in modern history".

Tens of thousands of Druze Israelis, along with Jewish supporters, thronged a Tel Aviv square on Saturday night in a rare demonstration against government policy by the typically muted community. Many people, myself included, disagree with that decision, inter alia because constitutional legislation should reflect a broad consensus, whereas many Basic Laws were approved by only narrow majorities or even minorities of the Knesset.

Druze leaders, including three MKs, were first to demand the High Court strike down the "extremist" law.

The wave of criticism piles pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is already beset by corruption allegations.

Livni apologized to members of the Druze community "not just for the problematic and discriminatory law, but for the fact that he (Netanyahu) didn't bother showing up here for the discussion, to talk, to stand here and give the answers he owes not just you, the Druze community, but to the entire State of Israel". The law has stirred calls for that to end.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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