Why Israel Needs the Nation-State Bill https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2015/04/why-israel-needs-the-nation-state-bill/

April 6, 2015 | Moshe Koppel
About the author: Moshe Koppel is a member of the department of computer science at Bar-Ilan University and chairman of the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem. His book, Judaism Straight Up: Why Real Religion Endures, was published by Maggid Books.

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 on Marginalia: http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/too-jewish-by-moshe-koppel/