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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



“Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”


Zurich, August 19, 2010

Dear signatories of the Appeal by concerned Jews to the Israeli Government

Our last mail about “Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” triggered a few reactions from your midst. We would like to outline some of our thoughts on this subject.

There is an ongoing debate among political scientists in Israel about this question. Basically three concepts are discussed: Israel is described as “Ethnic Democracy”, as “Ethnocracy” and as Formal Democracy combining different concepts of citizenship for Jews and Arabs.

The Israeli sociologist Sammy Smooha describes Israel as the archetype of an “Ethnic Democracy”. An ethnic democracy combines full political and civil rights for all citizens with a structured dominance of one ethnic group. Smooha writes: »Ethnic democracy is a system in which two contradictory principles operate: “the democratic principle”, making for equal rights and equal treatment of all citizens, and “the ethnic principle”, making for fashioning a homogeneous nation-state and privileging the ethnic majority« [Smooha 1998:200].

Others [Ghanem/Rouhana/Yiftachel 1998] have criticized the term “ethnic democracy” for the Israeli state, because core elements of democracy – equality of all citizens, minority rights and clear boundaries of sovereignty – do not exist in Israel. They describe Israel as “Ethnocracy”. An ethnocracy consists of a political system that ensures domination and control of one ethnic group in the state. In such a system, rights and privileges depend not on the status of citizenship but on ethnical origin. The functions of legal, institutional and executive instruments of power are to ensure ethnic dominance of one group.

Still other scholars [Shafir/Peled 2002] draw on the distinction between liberal and republican citizenship in order to describe the Israeli system. Liberal citizenship is a passive status conferring political rights and duties on citizens. In Israel all citizens – Jews and Arabs alike – enjoy the status of liberal citizenship: they can vote, run for election and have to pay taxes. Republican citizenship however is a status that bestows membership and the possibility of participation in a moral collective – a “nation”. In Israel, only Jews enjoy this status of republican citizenship: »[W]hile Jews and Arabs formally enjoy equal citi¬zenship rights, only Jews can exercise their citizenship as practice, by attending to the com¬mon good«. The “common good” in Israel is defined as the interest of the Jewish nation. While Palestinians have the same formal status as Jewish Israelis, they are discriminated against on a structural and personal level. This discrimination stems from the fact that they are not considered as belonging to the Jewish nation for which the state of Israel was built. The definition of Israel as democratic and Jewish state formulates inclusion and exclusion of the Palestinian minority at the same time.

On one hand Israel is a representative Democracy – as opposed to a Monarchy, Autocracy, Dictatorship. On the other hand the State of Israel is conceived of as the state of the Jewish People, thereby excluding all non-Jewish citizens to a lesser status. In purpose and content then, Israel can only be called a true democracy if it perceives itself to be the State of the Israeli people, meaning: the state of all its citizens.

Best regards,
Shelley Berlowitz and Jochi Weil

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