I have gone on record as saying that the proposed law supported by Prime Minister Netanyahu and other right wing members of the Israeli government is pointless because everyone in the world with even half a brain knows that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people. As I have said in the past, everything in Israel from our flag to our Declaration of Independence says that Israel is the Jewish homeland. But just because this new law may be pointless, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s wrong.
Israel is surrounded by countries that clearly define themselves on an ethnic and/or religious basis. Just look at our next door neighbour to the south, which is officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt. Or how about one of our neighbours to the north – the country officially called the Syrian Arab Republic. Looking further east, we have the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, nearly all of Israel’s neighbours clearly define themselves as Arab and/or Islamic states. So if it’s okay to have an Arab Republic of Egypt, a Syrian Arab Republic and an Islamic Republic of Iran, why isn’t it okay to have a Jewish State of Israel? It doesn’t take a genius to see the double standard here.
Moreover, it isn’t just dictatorships like Iran and Syria that define themselves based on ethnic or religious criteria. Many democracies, including several countries in Europe, do as well. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Anglican church is a national institution. Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s head of state, is also the head of the Anglican church. In other words, Anglicanism serves as the UK’s official state religion. The same is true of the Lutheran church in several Scandinavian countries. So if mature European democracies can declare themselves to be Christian states without so much as a whimper of condemnation from abroad, why should Israel not be allowed to declare itself a Jewish state without being condemned by the international community?
Again, I still believe that this proposed law to define Israel as the national home of the Jewish people is pointless and a waste of time. But I still contend that Israel has every right to define itself any way it wants, so long as it respects the rights of minorities, which of course it does much better than most of the countries that frequently condemn its very existence.