This blog is dedicated to the use of words. This post below, which was published in the Times of Israel, is about the omission of words. Sometimes what you do not say, has more effect on a country, a society, a person, then what you do say.
Listen, in truth, the Nation-State law is problematic. Not because of what it says, but because of what it doesn’t say. Fix it. It is simple. It is only two little words, but these words carry humanity on its shoulders. These ideals are also something the Jewish people for thousands of years have been denied worldwide. It is not something the Jewish People should ever be thought of as denying to others. “Equality,” and “Democracy” should not be so hard to put in the Nation-State law. These words should never have been omitted in the first place.
Two Words That Cary Humanity on It’s Shoulders
Israel’s Nation-State law has created quite the balagan, with many decrying the end to Israeli democracy, the beginning of the end for Israel, and the creation of some evil Jewish ethno-state. Meanwhile, since the law passed there has been this overwhelming outcry, myriad of debates, rallies against the narrowness of the law, argumentative editorials, open castigations and allegations, which in and of themselves, show that Israel’s democracy is just fine. This irony though is completely lost on many of the laws detractors.
You also have a Prime Minister and his cabinet defending this law, with their back against the wall, suddenly realizing their political gambit probably has not paid off in the way that they thought it would. There are hard-right parties, rethinking the law and the insult to communities like the Druze (not quite understanding how they thought this wasn’t going to be an issue in the first place.) And you have the abject rejection of the law by the majority of the world’s Jewish Community.
By the way, Israel’s Declaration of Independence enshrines the concept that Israel belongs to all the Jews of the world. This gives us in the Diaspora, the right to have our say on any number of issues, not least of all the political and Jewish character of the State. So yes, our voice does count in this case.
We, who have some issues with the law, are not saying that we did not know that Israel was the Jewish state. But what everyone insists is that Israel needed to enshrine in the Nation-State bill that Israel was also a democracy, granting equal and civil rights to all. Why would it have been difficult to incorporate in some way into this law what is already enshrined in other Basic Laws, so there would be no misinterpretation, no convolution, and no cause for concern that this law would override previous laws? It would really not be so hard to accomplish this if the authors had thought a little bit ahead. Of course, this bill has only been in the works for a decade and in the annuals of 4,000 years of Jewish history, 10 years really isn’t that long. So maybe they thought their machinations were simply in the infancy stage.
None of us can really know what was in the minds of those who so blatantly ignored what they knew would be the outcome of passing a law without the simple words “equality and democracy.” Whether there was racist animus, or some complete Machiavellian political intent only they do know. Not being part of the negotiations about the law, we can impute any number of evil beliefs, or underhanded meanings to this basic lack of compassion, understanding or respect. On the other hand, in truth, perhaps the authors of this bill are simply, without a doubt, egregiously stupid.