The Disingenuous and Incoherent Attacks on Israel’s “Jewish-State Bill”

In 2014, a bill was proposed in the Knesset that would add to Israel’s Basic Law—which functions in lieu of a constitution—a declaration that Israel is “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” together with a series of provisos in support of that definition. After causing much controversy, and having been tabled and reintroduced several times, the bill has now returned to the Knesset’s agenda in revised form, with a vote scheduled for today. David M. Weinberg argues that much of the criticism of the proposal is disingenuous, incoherent, or both:

Tzipi Livni, [an influential Knesset member from the center-left Kadima party], fulminated this week that the proposed law “discriminates against our Arab minority,” is rooted in “radical nationalism,” and is sponsored by “extremist elements of the right wing.” . . . Such inflammatory rhetoric is doubly duplicitous. It’s false because the current legislation is unremarkable compared to many European constitutions with even stronger national-homeland provisions and is considerably softer than [the] original version, especially in regard to [defining the rights of Arab citizens of] Israel.

The wild rhetoric against the bill is also deceitful because left-wing peace activists are constantly touting Israel’s existential need to remain a Jewish state when justifying the call for Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. In fact, “preserving Israel’s Jewishness” is so important to the withdrawal chorus that its leaders are willing to pay a very high price for it, including the surrender of historical and religious sites and the expelling of 100,000 or more Jewish settlers from Judea and Samaria. . . .

The Jewish people’s right to live in its homeland like other nations should be obvious and self-evident. But today the state of Israel’s identification with Jewish nationhood is under attack from large parts of the international community and from Israeli-Arab [politicians], Palestinians, post-Zionist Jews, and anti-Jewish Jews. Therefore, Jewish self-determination in the land of Israel and the Jewish character of Israel need to be enshrined in constitutional form. . . .

The Jewish side of the formulation “a Jewish and democratic state” has been under internal assault as well. The delicate balance between Israel’s Jewish and democratic characters has been particularly upset over the past 25 years by the Israeli supreme court. . . . [Many of the most significant] cases [before the court] called for a delicate balancing act between Israel’s democratic-liberal character and its Jewish-national character. But in fact no such balance was achieved because Israel’s Jewish character, unlike its democratic character, is not anchored in any basic law, and thus the liberal court could willfully, easily, and explicitly discount the “Jewish” pull in these cases.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli politics, Supreme Court of Israel, Tzipi Livni

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy