Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens never had so much in common as they do today. Both the Jewish majority and the Arab minority agree that what Israel and they need most is hope.
If everyone is looking for it, if we all want hope, this may possibly be the worst time to legislate that Arabic will no longer be one of Israel’s official languages, or that Israel’s official calendar will now be based only on the Jewish calendar (today, for example, is 13 Cheshvan 5776). This would be a terrible time to pass legislation legalizing segregated neighbourhoods by letting Jews refuse to allow Arabs to move into their communities.
All three examples, and more, are included in the so-called Nation-State Bill that has been dusted-off, repackaged, and proposed for consideration by the government.
Sometimes our legal team writes legalese, and sometimes they simply write common sense. After reading the new bill, our lawyers told government officials that the proposed bill denigrates Israel’s non-Jewish citizens and tramples the rights of millions of Arab-Israelis. We called out the proposed legislation for what it is: unnecessary, dangerous, and the worst possible way to calm the tension and the violence that has been preoccupying us during the past month.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced, without much fan-fare, that he would not allow the bill to be fast-tracked for a vote, as some had hoped. Common sense won out over divisiveness.
Being a majority comes with responsibility. We are measured as a democracy by how we protect the rights of minority groups. With PM Netanyahu’s decision, the delicate balance between two of Israel’s basic tenants—Judaism and Democracy—survives intact for another day. So does hope.
Yours from the trenches,