Israel Prize laureates petition Supreme Court against Nation-State Law
Some of the country's leading writers, entertainers, researchers and scientists seek amendment to controversial legislation so that it not only defines Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people but also as homeland of the minorities that live in it
Among the long and respected list of petitioners - all recipients of the Israel Prize - are writer David Grossman, actor and comedian Gavri Banai, educator Prof. Alice Shalvi, choreographer Ohad Naharin and artist Michal Na'aman.
The law, passed by the Knesset last year, defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and strips the Arabic language from its status as an official language alongside Hebrew, instead defining it as a language with "special status."
The petition aims is to see a special clause added to the legislation to protect the rights of minorities in Israel.
"Without the inclusion of minorities as part of the identity of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, the National-State Law is unconstitutional," says the petition.
The legislation caused a wave of protests within the Arab and Druze community.
Several petitions have already been filed against the law – but this one proposes a direct solution to the lack of mention of minorities.
The petitioners propose an additional clause be placed at the beginning of the law stating that "Israel is the national home land of the Jewish people" and that "it is the home land of all minorities who live within."
The group of laureates stress that a nation state bill cannot exist without the inclusion of the rights to which minorities are entitled.
They reference as an example the Croatian constitution, which states the it is the nation state of the Croatian people, but also the state of Muslims, Jews and all other minorities within it.
"Israel is the state of the Jews from a national standpoint, but from a civilian and judicial standpoint, it is also the state of the Druze, Bedouin and other citizens who live in it. More than two million citizens are not 'visitors' in the nation state of the Jews: they are part of this land and belong to it", says the petition.
David Harel, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel Prize laureate and Vice-President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, said Saturday that: "The principle of equality among all citizens is not sacrosanct because of people's belief in it, rather it has been a cornerstone of democracy. When a legislation such is this passes, you automatically ignore 20 percent of the population and that is not democracy."
Sculptor Dani Karavan, another from the group of laureates, added: "I think it is my moral duty to join this petition. I believe in human rights within democracy, equality and I'm against discrimination.
"Anyone who fights for equality and human rights, I'm on his side. I'm filled with appreciation for the many young people who get up and fight not only for their rights, but for the rights of others."