Israel’s Nation-State Law is Doomed to Fail

Al-Hayat, London, July 25

Last week, the Israeli parliament passed the Jewish Nation-State Bill, which defines Israel as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people and denies the rights of any other national or religious minorities as equal citizens. The law also stipulates that the “unified” and “undivided” city of Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel, referring not only to the parts of the city that were occupied in 1948, but also to those that were captured from Jordan in 1967. To add salt to injury, the status of the Arabic language, which was until today an official language in the country, has been downgraded to one with a “unique status.” Furthermore, the law explicitly and unapologetically calls for the expansion of settlements in the entire “Land of Israel,” referring to territories in the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Galilee. The law’s implicit goal, in other words, is to complete the task of taking over Palestine by erasing any last remaining connection of the Palestinians to their very own land. While so far this has been done in practice, now there is also constitutional backing to this effort. It is important to remember the idea for this law is not new. Ever since the Zionist movement was formed in Europe, Zionist Jews sought to establish a homeland that would be open only to the Jewish people. And while previous manifestations of this aspiration at least seemingly took into account the rights of minorities living in Israel, the terminology used in this recent bill doesn’t even pretend to safeguard the rights of Arabs, Druze, Christians, and Cesareans—all of whom are rightful citizens of Israel, and who constitute over 20% of the population. Thankfully, it is exactly this very last point that might be the silver lining. Israel’s non-Jewish minority now constitutes roughly a fifth of the population. Taken together with the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, this sizable population suddenly becomes a threat to the Jewish state. Indeed, demographic projections conducted by the Israeli government itself show that in a little over a decade, by 2030, Palestinians will make up a majority of the population in Palestine. This natural growth rate of the population far exceeds the Israeli one. Therefore, the Israeli parliament can waste its time and energy passing whatever laws it wants. The reality on the ground is the only thing that matters. And the reality, thankfully, is working against the Jewish ethnocratic nation state. –Nabil Saheli

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