May 10, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA Supports Knesset Bill Declaring Israel Nation State of the Jewish People

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) supports the Jewish nation-state bill, which establishes the fact that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, living in the biblical and historic homeland of the Jewish people. The bill declares that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, that Hebrew is the state language, that Arabic has a special status, and that all citizens have a right to maintain their own culture, heritage and language. The bill was approved today in a preliminary reading by a vote of 48 to 41, with the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties opposing. (Marissa Newman and Raoul Wootliff, ‘Knesset advances ‘Jewish state’ bill in preliminary vote,’ Times of Israel, May 10, 2017).

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the bill will be promoted during the Knesset’s summer session (May-August) and that, “The Likud will pass this important law, and I expect all Zionist parties to support it” (Lahav Harkov, ‘Netanyahu throws strong support behind Jewish nation-state bill,’ Jerusalem Post, May 7, 2017).

 

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We strongly support this bill, which makes explicit in an appropriate way that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.

 

In many ways, the opposition to this law replicates the arguments of those who feel Israel should change its Jewish symbols or drop Hatikvah as the national anthem.

“Israel is a proud and vigorous democracy and this bill does not imply anything other than the continuance of the civil, religious and other rights of all of Israel’s minorities, which Israel has always protected and will continue to protect.

 

“Non-Jewish citizens have always lived in and are welcome in Israel. None of this is affected by this legal affirmation that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and that its laws, language, flag, anthem and institutions reflect the history and aspirations of the people who founded it. 

 

“The Opposition Leader, Isaac Herzog, is mistaken to assert that this bill threatens the delicate balance between Jewish and democratic elements of Israel’s character. Neither the free observance of religion and conscience, use of Arabic, or continuing state support for non-Jewish religious, cultural and educational institutions and infrastructures is even remotely threatened by this law.

 

“In many ways, the opposition to this law replicates the arguments of those who feel Israel should change its Jewish symbols or drop Hatikvah as the national anthem.

 

“The British Anthem is ‘God Save the Queen.’ The French anthem, ‘La Marseillaise,’ speaks of ‘Ye sons of France,’ of ‘Frenchman as magnanimous warriors’ fighting those of ‘impure blood.’ Must these anthems be changed in deference to British republicans and those of ‘impure blood’? Of course not. 

 

“A requirement of citizenship is that people identify with the national heritage, even if it is not personally their own. Jews have had no difficulty doing so in these countries as well as others, providing they are afforded the freedoms Israel provides to its minorities.

“The ZOA urges all parties to support this bill.”