A state that belongs to only some of its citizens

July 14, 2018
According to the ‘Jewish Nation-State' bill, Israel does not belong to Israeli citizens. It belongs to the Jewish people, half of whom are not even Israeli.

A Jewish man waving the Israeli flag argues with an Arab woman as thousands celebrate Jerusalem Day

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Mann writes in +972, “There is a form on the Israeli Interior Ministry’s website, where one can order duplicate and translated copies of a birth certificate. On that form is a drop-down menu, above which it is written: “Nationality.”…you will find a list of nationalities which — if one were to attempt to deduce from it how Israel defines nationality — defies all logic. The nationalities listed include ethnicities without their own states, states without distinct or exclusive nationalities/ethnicities, and long-defunct “minority rule” colonial constructs….”

“What you won’t find is the one nationality you might most expect to: “Israeli.” As absurd as it may sound, the State of Israel does not actually recognize an Israeli nationality. In fact, the state has on several occasions argued in court that no such a nationality exists. (To be fair, speaking of things Israel refuses to exist, the Interior Ministry drop-down menu doesn’t include the “Palestinian” nationality either.) That Israel does not acknowledge an Israeli nationality is crucial for understanding why a “constitutional amendment” currently being proposed by Netanyahu and his government — the Jewish Nation-State law — is so problematic.”

“According to Netanyahu and his government’s proposed law, Israel does not belong to Israeli citizens, more than 20 percent of whom are not Jewish. Instead, Israel is the state of the Jewish people, roughly half of whom are not even Israeli. Constitutionally anchoring two classes of citizens — those to whom the state belongs and those to whom it doesn’t — is particularly problematic when you consider that Israel doesn’t have any constitutional guarantees of equality on the books.” (more…)

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