In Its Essence, Israel’s Nation-State Law Is about Responsibility

Aug. 10 2018

A professor emeritus of philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and the author of the codes of ethics used by Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the IDF, Asa Kasher has been critical of the present form of the Basic Law passed by the Knesset last month. In particular, he argues that the law “should have stated how it is fully compatible with the principles of democracy, including the equal protection of human dignity and rights”—but, he adds, despite the hysterical arguments of some of its opponents, the law is by no means incompatible with those principles. Kasher in fact finds its underlying purpose praiseworthy, and explains why:

Individually, the state [of Israel] belongs to [its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens] to exactly the same extent. Collectively, however, there is a difference. In Israel, Jews exercise their right to self-determination, [as the new law affirms]. An Israeli Arab desiring Palestinian self-determination will see this collective right implemented when [a Palestinian state] is established. Nothing in his status as an Israeli citizen would change. . . .

Why should there be nation-states in the first place? Rootless cosmopolitanism has not shifted the attitude of millions who want to express their deep ethnic and cultural affiliations through statehood. Naturally, we associate Finland with the Finns, Greece with the Greeks, and Israel with the Jews. . . .

Why should there be a Jewish state rather than a political entity of another nature? Why should the Jews be treated differently from the Finns and the Greeks? There is a national minority of Arabs in Israel, indeed, but there is also a national minority of Swedes in Finland. Is there a difference between Arabs as a minority and Swedes as a minority? Denying rights to Jews that are granted to others is, pace Jeremy Corbyn, yet another form of anti-Semitism. . . .

Is the new law mainly symbolic, or does it have practical consequences? The new law does have practical consequences. I take one word in its text to be its conceptual and moral essence: responsibility. Greece shoulders responsibility for the fate of its citizens, and also for the fate of Greeks everywhere, for example in Cyprus. As the Jewish nation-state, Israel is responsible for the existence, security, and wellbeing of all of its citizens, and also for the fate of the Jews wherever they are.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli politics

Hamas’s Plan to Take Over the West Bank

Dec. 17 2018

Last week, terrorists from the West Bank—at the apparent direction of Hamas—carried out multiple attacks that left at least three Israelis dead. These attacks follow on the heels of an Egypt-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Hamas government in Gaza, as part of which the terrorist group received millions of dollars from Qatar. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:

Hamas and its allies are openly encouraging the eruption of a new anti-Israel uprising in the West Bank; [furthermore], Hamas and its friends have been emboldened by the recent failure of the UN General Assembly to adopt a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas and other Palestinian groups for firing rockets at Israel and inciting violence. . . .

Every dollar and every concession made to Hamas will only increase its appetite to . . . extend its control beyond the Gaza Strip. From Hamas’s point of view, its plan has won legitimacy from the UN and important players in the region such as Qatar and Egypt. So long as Hamas feels that it is marching in the right direction, we are likely to see an increase in armed attacks and other forms of violence in the West Bank.

Now that Hamas is getting what it wants in the Gaza Strip—millions of dollars and no war with Israel—it is seeking to shift its attention to the West Bank, all with the help of its friends in Tehran. This [policy] has a threefold goal: to undermine or overthrow Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, inflict heavy casualties on Israel, and thwart any peace plan brought forward by the U.S. administration. In other words, Hamas and Iran now have their sights set on the West Bank, and this is reason not only for Israel to worry, but for Abbas to worry as well.

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More about: Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror, Qatar, West Bank