Equality is key

Equality is key

Special to NJJN

Chèvre, habibi, friends. I’m involved in Israeli-Arab issues in the fields of equality and shared society, so why am I so angry? I wake up every morning hoping that the passage of “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People” was just a nightmare. But unfortunately it happened. Really.

At least 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are not Jewish and Jews enjoy rights that others don’t have — the new law makes non-Jews less equal than Jews. Lawmakers didn’t use terms like “racial segregation,” “discrimination,” and “supremacy.” (The full text of the law is available on the website of the Inter Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues.) 

How can we create a common foundation of mutual respect and goodwill?  How can we change the state’s attitude toward its non-Jewish citizens? Those who believe in the ability of the Arab minority to integrate into our shared country must fight and win the battle against this new law.

Down the road, the nation-state law will cause damage and will bring exclusion of minorities to terrifying levels. My stance is clear: All citizens must be equal. Jews and Arabs.

Israel is no longer in sync with other democracies. By purposely excluding the word “equality” from the text, the government is destroying peace, democracy, and equality for more political capital for future campaigns of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We need Israel to be a democratic nation-state that treats minorities as fully equal citizens. Democracy starts with equality.

Our only way to start the needed change is by talking about it and asking a future Israeli government to amend or override the law. Yes,
they can.

Here’s a positive note: The majority of Israelis think that the nation-state law should have included the word “equality,” according to the August Peace Index of the Israel Democracy Institute. 


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