A new law currently under consideration by the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) recognizes the inherent contradiction in Israel’s self-definition as both a ‘democratic’ and Jewish state, and calls on the government to favor Jewish law and traditions over democracy.Forty legislators have sponsored the bill, including the majority of Knesset members from the Kadima party, and Knesset members from the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, the Labor party, Atzamaut and National Union parties.
It calls on Israeli courts to use Jewish law to make decisions ‘in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character’, and calls for Arabic to be removed as one of Israel’s national languages (20% of the population of Israel are indigenous Palestinians who remained after the state of Israel was created on their land in 1948).
The bill also calls for the state to take action ‘to ingather the exiles of Israel and [further] Jewish settlement within it, and allocate resources to this end.’ Israel already has laws in place to encourage immigration of Jews from around the world into Israel, including housing incentives, free language classes and job assistance.
The Institute for Zionist Strategies helped draft the bill. Among the Institute’s stated goals are stopping Palestinians from constructing new homes and stopping the ‘demographic threat’ posed by Palestinians — a term used by right-wing Zionists to refer to the fact that the 20% of the Israeli population that is Palestinian has a higher birth rate than the majority Jewish population.
Knesset members Zeev Elkin and David Rotem, who introduced the bill, also introduced the controversial law which passed last month banning Israelis from supporting the boycott of Israeli products and practices.