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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



Can you have a Jewish and democratic state?

Page last updated 25 Oct 2015


This issue is broached in “Israeli Society and Politics – What kind of society?”: Jewish and democratic? It inevitably comes into debates about Israel and antisemitism, the nature of Zionism, singling out Israel (“why should the Jews, alone among nations, not have a right to a state of their own?”) – and more. The articles on other pages of this Key Debates section are often directly relevant and there a few more articles dealing directly with the issue below.


1. Israelis have civic rights, not a right to have a Jewish state
Joseph Levine, The Stone/NY Times, JfJfP 13 Mar 2013

“There is an unavoidable conflict between being a Jewish state and a democratic state. I want to emphasize that there’s nothing antisemitic in pointing this out, and it’s time the question was discussed openly on its merits, without the charge of antisemitism hovering in the background.”


2. Values of a Jewish and Democratic State
Jewish Virtual Library, nd.

An interesting discussion showing how the key phrase in the Basic Law “a Jewish and democratic state” has been interpreted differently by various jurists and justices.

For Justice Aharon Barak, the expression “Jewish and democratic” does not imply two opposites, but rather their being complementary and harmonious. Justice Menachem Elon’s interpretation transforms the term “Jewish” into an unimportant, secondary addendum to the term “democratic”, while for Justice Haim Cohn the interpreter must adopt, from within the principles of Jewish tradition, only those principles befitting and appropriate to a democratic society. Justice Elon believes that in any case uncertainty in the interpretation of a legal provision the court should have recourse to Jewish Law as its source of inspiration and interpretation, except where the law in question explicitly contradicts Jewish Law.

The article is undated; it is likely in today’s court that views like those expressed by Justices Elon and Cohn would hold sway.


Contents of this section


a) Setting the scene: the hasbara (propaganda) war
b) Is criticism of Israel antisemitic?

Singling out Israel
Is Israel an apartheid society?
BDS and antisemitism

c) Can you have a Jewish and democratic state?
d) What is Zionism today?

e) The nature of the nakba
f) One state or two?
g) Is Hamas to blame? Is Gaza still occupied?
h) Right of return and law of return
i) The role of the JNF


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