A team of legal experts and activists have set their sights on the controversial Nation-State Law passed during the previous Knesset session and are working to amend it to include the element of equality. They are hoping that their proposal will be accepted by the upcoming Knesset.
According to the proposal, signed by former Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein, among others, the law will be amended to include the values of the State o Israel as a Jewish and democratic state according to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, Arabic will be recognized as an official state language and the encouragement of Jewish settlement (throughout the country) will be carried out according to these principals and "for the benefit of all the state's citizens."
The team says that they have no intention of harming the "unique Jewish national right." Rubinstein said that they are not associated with the petitions to the Supreme Court against the law. "It is essential that Israel's non-Jewish residents, especially those who serve in the security forces, should feel that the state is their home. This matter is beyond judicial sophistry — it is only reasonable," he said.
He added that their proposal is similar to the state's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, with an added element of equality and a respectable clause regarding language and reference to (general) Jewish settlement. "Approval of the proposal will reflect a feeling of civic partnership and the dignity which is so important to Israel's non-Jewish citizens and will enhance internal peace as well as Israel's international standing," Rubinstein continued.
Brig. Gen. (Res.) and Israel Prize recipient Amal Asad, who is leading the campaign to amend the law, was interviewed by Ynet Wednesday where he argued that the amendment will actually buttress the law. "We are offering the Knesset an olive branch in the form of an expanded law.
"I am not fighting the Nation-State Law, it is okay. It exists to define the nationalism of the Jewish people, the home of the Jewish nation," Asad continued. "But it cannot only be a home for the Jewish people because I live here, I was born here, I built this state, I defended it together with my Jewish friends."
Regarding the amendment's feasibility in the current political climate, Asad said that its acceptance is possible if pressure is applied to the government and its head.
"I don’t believe that there is a politician with a conscience, with integrity, who will not accept this. I call on all of Israel to read the new wording and together we will pressure the prime minister and the Right-wing government; I am sure they will accept it," Asad said.
Many of the law's critics say that it was a major mistake to leave out any reference of equality and minorities rights. "Democracy and human rights are not a threat to Judaism. It is an Israeli project which we must fight for," said Prof. Shahr Lifshitz, head of the Center for Jewish and Democratic Law at the Faculty of Law at Bar-Ilan University.