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  • Writer's pictureJewish Examiner

My Tug Of War With Israel’s National Law

I don’t know exactly where I stand on this law but I do know that I stand with the people that are not losing their minds over it. This article is hyperbole free. No buzzwords have been used and abused in the writing of this article.

If someone woke me up in the morning and said this to me-

a) Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people in which the State of Israel was established.

b) The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, religious, and historic right to self-determination.

c) The fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

My response would be yeah okay, now can you get me some coffee and repeat that last one for me. People get stuck on that last one because it’s easy to miss the word national. On an individual level self determination is the process by which a person controls their own lives. The law doesn’t touch on that. National self determination is the process by which a nation determines its statehood, or who or what it will be. As I see it, this part of the law is ruling out Israel becoming anything other than the nation state of the Jewish people.

As my coffee is brewing, that someone starts listing all the symbols of the Jewish state, and I’d be like “Yada, yada, yada” tell me something I don’t know.

Just as my coffee is being poured they tell me this-

3. [The] unified and complete [city of] Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

With my eyes on my coffee mug as it fills, I would say to them that of course Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. But my eyes did roll when they had to add the word complete after they already said reunified.

The Arabic language was demoted from official to special status. Unlike the cream and sugar in my coffee, that was totally unnecessary. The part about the diaspora, I’m just going to skip over because there is only so much coffee and so little time. We love you like family my diaspora peeps, and like number 5 says, if the shit ever gets too real over there, come on home.

7. The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.

Thank God the caffeinehas started to kick in! Or was it the wording that caused the jolt? They used the most knee jerk word, settlement, in the English translation. I guess there isn’t a different word in English, but there is in Hebrew, which has a very different connotation than settlements and settlers.

The rest of the bill is about calendars and holidays and days of rest. Interesting that in the days of rest section they did remember that other people live here.

As I sip my coffee I tried to think about this bill through the eyes of a Druze or Arab citizen. The part of my brain not yet fully caffeinated said “Well, it’s not like they woke up and discovered that while they were sleeping this became the Jewish state.” My compassion at times is directly connected to my caffein levels. Once the level of caffeination reached its max I began to try and imagine I was part of the minority living here.

I was a minority in the US. So I know what it feels like but at the same time I don’t. I wasn’t a minority living in a country who had a major conflict with my people and the thing that separated me from the others was where I was when the armistice line was drawn. So at the very least, I do get how delicate this fabric is and how easily it tears. For that reason it couldn’t have hurt for the creators of the bill to consult with the minorities out of simple human kindness. No, non Jews don’t get to define Jewish identity but they should get to define their space in the Jewish nation state.

I don’t care what the international/world community thinks about the law. Anti zionism and Israel hatred live in that community. Antisemitism grows there and it’s flourishing. This law should have been written when they first started putting together the basic laws. Now I see it as a response to the constant dehumanization of Jewish Israelis. It brought out the Jew in us.

Some people love this law because well…Bibi. Some people hate this law because, well…Bibi.

The most important question this law brings up is how do we continue to build a Jewish nation state that enables its minorities to find their place in it alongside us? That’s what we should be talking about, over coffee of course. If you will it, it is no dream.

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