Decoding the ‘Basic Law’ and the Meaning of a ‘Jewish Nation’

The latest ‘Basic Law’ that was enacted by the Israeli Knesset on July 19, 2018 has adverse effect on Palestinians within Israel and in the occupied territories of Palestine. It contravenes even the assertions made in the Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Government of Israel on May 14, 1948. The existence of at least 65 other laws that seek to discriminate Arab Palestinians vis-à-vis their Jewish counterparts provide proof of the existence of an Apartheid system in Israel, which is well captured in the ESCWA Report of 2017.

Israel does not have a formal written Constitution as yet. Instead, what are called “Basic Laws”, each of which is supposed to form a chapter of the Constitution, are adopted by the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) from time to time. The drafting of a “Basic Law” was to be guided by the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted at the time of the formation of Israel on 14 May, 1948.  Until 2017, 13 such “Basic Laws” had been enacted, including one in 1992 on “Human Dignity and Liberty”, which sought to incorporate the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”. What exactly is meant by Jewish and democratic state”? A state could either be “Jewish” or “democratic”; how could it be both at the same time?

“Jewish” or “Democratic”?

According to the explanation offered on the web portal Constitution for Israel”, a joint project of the…

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