On May 14, 1948, our dream of 2,000 years was fulfilled. It was the culmination of both hope and purpose.
The hope is embedded in our national anthem, Hatikva— “ha tikva bat shnot alpayim”, our hope of two thousand years.
And similarly our purpose is embedded in the same anthem—“lihiyot am chofshi b’artzenu, eretz Tzion v’Yerushalayim”, to be a free people in our own land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Immediately following the Proclamation of Independence, read by our first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, our newborn State was attacked and invaded by the Arab armies of six nations plus the murders and destruction by the local Arab population.
Our State was costly at its birth. 6,373 of our bravest young men gave their last breath and the last drop of their blood in the defense of the 1948 War of Independence. Blessed be the memory of the heroes of Israel.
According to numbers provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Government Press Office, and the IDF, those Jews later killed by Arab terrorist activities is 2,477. In all the subsequent wars and Intifadas, the total numbers of our dead approximates 16, 340.
At the birth of our nation, a name was chosen in honor of the Father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, who predicted its birth in his book “Der Judenstaat”… the Jewish State.
We have no written Constitution in Israel, unlike most democracies. In its place we have the Basic Law which engenders all the rights of all the citizens in the State of Israel…laws which are upheld and defended by our judiciary and our Supreme Court.
Today we are faced with a dire threat. We are tragically witnessing the death of our State as we know it and treasure it on 18thof July 2018.
A new addition is being made to our Basic Law (which I regard sadly as our Racist Law). From the State of Israel we are now becoming the Nation-State of the Jewish People, which by its name excludes the non-Jewish minorities living with us.
Like Muslim countries whose laws are governed by Sharia, we are abandoning British Common Law from the years of the Mandate, and we are replacing it with Halachic Law, Jewish religious and rabbinic law which discriminates against all non-Orthodox Jews and whose rabbinate does not recognize the many millions of Conservative and Reform Jews living in free Diaspora countries.
Since 1918 when the British Mandate in Palestine became the ruling authority, three languages were declared to be the official languages in Palestine. And in 1948, the State of Israel maintained the three languages as official… Hebrew, Arabic and English.
Now, 100 years later, Arabic, the language of 21% of our minority population, has been removed as an official language.
This discrimination only furthers the conflict and the enmity between Arabs and Jews. What purpose does removal of Arabic from our official languages accomplish ?
The new Nation-State Bill will also decrease Aliyah from western nations. Why would any Jew want to emigrate to Israel, a land where his/her religious principles are not recognized and are prohibited?
It will affect philanthropy as many Diaspora Jews will refuse financial contributions.
The new Nation-State Bill, when passed into Basic Law within hours, will do more harm to our country and less to benefit it.
The Arab member of Knesset, Dr. Ahmed Tibi, decried the terms of the proposed Bill and rightly condemned its discriminatory clauses. Declaring that democracy was now dead in Israel, he stated “the funeral of the State will take place in this plenum” .
The Jewish nation-state will now be more Jewish and less democratic.
I don’t think that is the kind of state that Ben-Gurion and the founders of our nation had in mind. I don’t think it is a state whose new nature and new laws will be enjoyed by a majority of our citizens nor by the entire minority populations of Arab Muslims, Arab Christians, non-Arab Christians and Druze.
Our democratic nation was born in 1948. It died in 2018.
Yitgadal v’yitkadash shmai raba!