Why Israel Needs the Nation-State Bill

Moshe Koppel drafted an early version of the bill before the Knesset that would grant constitutional status to Israel’s identity as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” Arguments against the bill, he writes, boil down to the complaint that it is “too Jewish.” They are wrong:

[T]he state should serve as a framework in which the majority of citizens already committed to some form of Jewish identity are able to manifest that identity in the public sphere. Specifically, what the bill demands is that this Jewish identity be given expression in Israel’s choice of language, symbols, calendar, immigration policy, and so on. . . . All these are sufficiently fundamental that they should be anchored in a basic law. In fact, I suspect that most innocent observers of Israel would be surprised to hear that they aren’t already anchored in a basic law. . . .

Just as judges must adjudicate between conflicting civil and human rights—say, my right to free speech versus your right to privacy, or your freedom of movement versus my property rights—so too they must adjudicate between the collective right of the majority to self-definition and other rights that might conflict with this collective right. This does not mean that being a Jewish nation-state is incompatible with being a democracy any more than that free speech is incompatible with the right to privacy; rights and values bump up against each other and from time to time they need to be adjudicated. . . .

In short, the law is necessary for restoring a lost balance between national rights and individual rights in Israeli law. It is necessary also for the purpose of clarifying to ourselves and to others what we mean — and, no less significantly, what we do not mean—when we assert our right to a Jewish nation-state.

Read more at Marginalia

More about: Basic Law, Israel & Zionism, Law, Nationalism, Supreme Court of Israel

Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship