When you read an article “PM to push for law declaring Israel nation-state of the Jews” at
you may think that Israel has to decide what kind of society in Israel has to be supported legislatively and constitutionally – Jewish or democratic – both those descriptors cannot exist in one place together. Indeed the article says:
“Planned new Basic Law will respect minority rights, Netanyahu vows; proposal likely to shake up governing coalition. … Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he would advance new legislation in the Knesset to anchor Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people, saying that opposing such a recognition would eventually undermine the country’s very right to exist. … Jerusalem’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state has been one of the major sticking points in the latest round of peace negotiations, with Netanyahu saying he will never sign an agreement without it and the Palestinians refusing adamantly. Even outside the framework of peace negotiations, Netanyahu’s plan is likely to cause controversy, as some 20 percent of Israel’s population is not Jewish. … One of Netanyahu’s coalition allies, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, panned the move, saying she would “continue to defend Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state, and by no means will we allow weakening the democratic values and subjugating them to the Jewish ones.””
However the truth is Israel could be Jewish, democratic and Torah-based state as well and let’s see why it is so.
A classical dictionary definition of “being democratic”
is being governed by elected officials (or an elected official) chosen by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state.
Thus if the people’s majority of any nation votes to make a certain idea the fundamental trait of their nation it should be so. This definition doesn’t impose any limitation on what to vote for. In the 1930th, the people of Germany democratically elected Hitler and his Nazi party to make Germany the “Supreme Arian” nation which rules over and enslaving the others.
About the same time the people of Russia elected Stalin and communists to make Russia the “Supreme Proletariat” nation thus enslaving their own population and population of other European countries. After WWII the people of the USA were electing US governments with clearly pronounced policy of imposing on the world countries the US-approved-democratic-style political systems.
These days the peoples of some Moslem countries elect their governments with clearly pronounced policies of denigrating all “infidels” such as Christians, Hindus … and of course Jews.
So “being democratic” doesn’t impose any limitation on a kind of spiritual environment the people are trying to create and strengthen in their country and how they are going to deal with their neighbors.
A classical dictionary definition of “Being Jewish”
defines a Jewish person as someone born to a Jewish family or converted to Jewish faith. Although there are many different authoritative definitions on these two identifiers (what constitutes a Jewish family, what is a true conversion) but in the state of Israel the following is becoming clear: everybody who defends and strengthens Israel is welcome as in essence Jewish.
Defining “being Jewish” for the Jewish people and the state of Israel is the same as for the people of the USA defining “being American” or for the Russians defining “being Russian”.
In the USA, “being American” means (although it is changing rapidly) being first of all a unique individual and using the economic and social freedoms for making your own life in accordance with your own mind-set in the frame-work of American Constitution. If you are a Muslim you can be a good American if your religious activities don’t undermine the social fundamentals of the country and you are not trying to introduce collective-obedience-based Sharia laws in the USA, practice rituals of Islam at your home and at your mosque – in the USA, the social fabric is based on individual freedom.
In Russia, “being Russian” means being an integral part of a social crowd, having a good caring government and obeying it. Russia has over one hundred ethnical groups and most of them obey Russian social order and consider themselves a part of Russian civilization.
In Israel, “being Israeli” should mean “being Jewish” at its best since the Israeli Jews have an opportunity to demonstrate what the Chosen have to do and able to do as the majority in building a better world for everybody including a better world for themselves and the others. It is a difficult task since there is no Jewish unity on the essence of “a better world” and there is no Muslim desire to build a better world together with the Jews. It is difficult but possible … with the inspiration of the Torah.
In Israel like in the USA, Muslim Arabs can live peacefully and enjoy the equal rights – if they agree to practice Islam in their home and mosques and not to introduce collective-obedience-based Sharia laws in Israel where the social fabric is based on Jewish spirituality, and agree to practice rituals of Islam exclusively at their homes and mosques. Like in the USA, Israeli Muslims have to follow the guidance of an Israeli unwritten constitution that is in essence is the Torah (of course not in a strict Haredim’s interpretation).
Definition of “Being Torah-based”
is simple – being legally restricted and directed by the government laws (or constitution) made to enforce the Torah-based guidance on collective human behavior. That is not a Haredim’s definition of Torah guidance with 613 regulations-commandments – it should be a simplified and smaller interpretation of the Torah’s guidance which is supported by a majority of Israeli Jews – not only by a small Haredim’s minority.
The state of Israel may be and should be Jewish, democratic with Torah-based constitution and governing laws and non-Jews may live peacefully and with equal rights if they democratically support the Torah-based Jewish character of the country.