Israel is first and foremost a Jewish state, said Justice Dalia Dorner, who retired from the bench in 2004.
But this does mean Israel is
not a democracy, she told Ynet Thursday. "I say to anyone who suggests we renounce our Jewish definition, our Jewish symbols, the whole point of Israel lays in its Jewish nature."
"Israel was not established to further democracy, it was founded as the Jewish state. We will not let go of the sole reason for our existence," she said, speaking in a conference held by The Mossawa Center for Arab citizens in Israel.
"We have no other state to call our own," added Dorner, and went on to express her absolute support for the need to reach total equality for all of Israel's citizens.
Is Israel's definition as both a "Jewish" and a "democratic" state mutually exclusive? Dorner does not think so.
"It's mostly up to legal interpretation," she said. "I see it as a synthesis of the two… we can certainly find a reference to our obligation to treat the minorities living among us as equals in the Scriptures. Fulfilling this obligation in vital," she added.
"Excluding the Arab minority is not good for this county… Israel as a Jewish state must give the other nationalities living in its midst the rights they're entitled to."
What about the Arab demand that Israel change its formal symbols? "This is a democracy, so they can ask for anything they want," said Dorner "but this specific demand might cause public resentment.
"The Arabs share a majority's mentality, since they see themselves a part of the millions of Arabs in the Middle East. We (the Jews) share a minority's mentality, and see this demand as a threat to our perception of ourselves."
Dorner made it clear she thinks Israel should fight for collective equality. "Ideologically, I believe Israel – as a country – strives for the equality it pledged to in its Declaration of Independence… we will find a solution," she said "I'm optimistic."