Shulamit Aloni
Photo: Ofer Amram

Jewish and democratic?

Op-ed: Shulamit Aloni slams Citizenship Law amendment, ‘Jewish’ pledge of allegiance

The gist of the Citizenship Law amendment, which will entrench the ban on family unification between Arab-Israelis and Palestinians, through a demand to pledge allegiance to a “Jewish, democratic state,” is discrimination against these citizens. After all, they would not be able to make such pledge, and in fact I too would not be able to do it, because a Jewish state cannot be democratic.


On June 8, 2010, our Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that there is no such thing as the “Israeli people,” but rather, we have the “Jewish people,” and hence Palestinians and Arab Israelis must recognize the State of Israel as the “Jewish people’s” state. Now we see a more interesting, Kahane-style demand being added: A pledge of allegiance to the State.


First, we must remind our learned prime minister and his colleagues that the abovementioned demand, on top of having racist intentions that cannot be ignored, is also afflicted by ignorance. Our PM and his associates should take a look at our prayer books and discover that the God of the Jews or the Jewish people do not exist there.


All our prayer books, topped by the ones for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, speak of the god of Israel, people of Israel, and Land of Israel, along with a plea for God to bring the people of Israel back to its country.


Moreover, the sovereign State of Israel’s two constitutive documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Basic Lines of the first elected government, which included all four religious parties at the time, mentions the sovereign state, that is the “State of Israel.” The “Jewish people” was born, grew, developed, and persecuted in the Diaspora, under the status of a “religious ethnic community.”


In the democratic world, there is no wonder that British Jews enjoy the full rights of British citizens; the same is true in Denmark, France, and any other democratic state. They have the right and freedom to be Jewish and decide which kind of Jews they wish to be, because democratic societies offer freedom of religion and conscience.


Horror of conversion

It’s worthwhile knowing that our first government’s Basic Lines included the following explicit statement: “The law that will establish the democratic and republican regime in the State of Israel would guarantee absolute equality of rights and duties to all its citizens, irrespective of religion, creed, and gender; freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture will be guaranteed; full and absolute equality of women will be maintained – equality in rights and duties pertaining to the life of the state, society, economy, and within the entire system of laws.”


The Knesset unanimously approved these Basic Lines, and as noted, they are commensurate with the Declaration of Independence. The shift from “Israel” to “Jewish, democratic state” reflects harm to democracy, because “Jewish” and democratic do not go hand in hand. Just look at the laws pertaining to marriage and divorce and the horror of conversion, which are certainly reminiscent of the dark days in Spain when everyone was required to be Catholic.


Those who did not accept Catholicism considered doing so and faced less suffering than that inherent in Orthodox conversion, while Minister Eli Yishai watches over and seeks to expel any immigrant who had not converted. This, despite what we learned in Even Ha’ezer, which explicitly notes that those who were integrated and assimilated into us should not face inquiries and scrutiny, with all such families considered “kosher” Jews.


Indeed, those who arrived here integrated into our army and schools, adopting the Hebrew language and local culture. Yet our prime minister insists on “Jewish State” and rejects the existence of the people of Israel and State of Israel. He does all that so that the Arabs and Palestinians will recognize him and his colleagues as Kosher Jews, who hate the Arabs and natives of this land to the point of permitting their robbery and humiliation.



פרסום ראשון: 07.19.10, 00:16
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