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Church Leaders Express Concern Over Jewish Nation-State Law

World  (tags: Jewish Nation-State Law, Chrisrians, Muslims, Church leaders, israel, world media/news/Israel/Palestine, Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Th, Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar, Evangelical Lutheran Church, racism )

- 230 days ago -
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III observed that the new law does not mention the Christians and Muslims who have lived on the land before and ever since the establishment of the State of Israel


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fly bird (26)
Saturday August 4, 2018, 11:50 pm
Heads of churches in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have reacted with dismay and concern to the Israeli Knesset’s adoption, on 19 July, 2018, of a new Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, which specifies that “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” according to a World Council of Churches (WCC) statement published on Friday.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III observed that the new law does not mention the Christians and Muslims who have lived on the land before and ever since the establishment of the State of Israel, and said that the new law “strengthens the institutionalization of racism and dispels hopes of equality.”

Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land called it “fundamentally divisive, racist, and destructive.”

Bishop Azar remarked, according to WAFA, that the new law “deliberately excludes the 1.5 million citizens of Israel who identify as Arab Israeli” and “ignores the presence of citizens and residents who are members of other religious groups and the significant contributions they make to Israeli society.”

A statement by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem stressed that “the law fails to provide any constitutional guarantees for the rights of the indigenous and other minorities living in the country” and “sends an unequivocal signal to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, to the effect that in this country they are not at home.” The downgrading of Arabic from an official language to a language with “a special status” strengthens that signal.

Church leaders also highlighted the dangers of the provision of the new Basic Law, stipulating that “The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” In Bishop Azar’s words, “It is difficult to understand how the encouragement and promotion of segregated, mono-cultural, mono-religious communities within Israel proper (or within Palestinian territory, in the form of illegal settlements) moves the State of Israel toward a peaceful future.”

Patriarch Theophilos expressed concern that this provision will strengthen the hand of settlement groups seeking to seize church properties in Jerusalem and elsewhere. He stated that key proponents of this new law represent the same bodies that have sought to enact a law allowing the State of Israel to confiscate the lands of all churches – which Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to prevent, in discussions following the decision by the heads of the churches to close the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in February, this year.

Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, stressed that “This is about the Holy land and holy places of three religions. Jerusalem must be a shared one. It cannot be the exclusive possession of one faith over against the others, or of one people over against the other. Jerusalem is, and must continue to be, a city of three religions and two peoples.”

“Jerusalem is regarded as a holy city and loved, genuinely and deeply loved, by all three Abrahamic faiths – Jews, Christians and Muslims,” Tveit underlined. “That love and profound attachment must be respected and affirmed in any solution that might be envisaged, if it is to be viable.”

fly bird (26)
Saturday August 4, 2018, 11:52 pm
Advocates: Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law Constitutionally Enshrines Racism Against Palestinians (VIDEO)
July 26, 2018

Video: 59.02

USCPR Executive Director Yousef Munayyer appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss Israel’s “nation-state” law constitutionally enshrining apartheid.


AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by Democracy Now! video stream by Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. And joining us in studio, Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, co-authored a new op-ed in The Independent headlined “As Jews, we reject the myth that it’s antisemitic to call Israel racist.”

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Yousef, let’s begin with you. If you can talk about what’s happened in Gaza right now, the death toll up to 140, and then move on to the law that was just passed on Thursday?

YOUSEF MUNAYYER: Sure. Well, the most recent events that we’ve seen in the Gaza Strip are sort of a escalation that happens from time to time and forces, you know, many in the media and us here in the United States and the outside world to tune back in to Gaza, based on the fear that it is on the brink of yet another major Israeli bombardment. But the reality is that in those moments when we are not tuned in, the constant and structural violence that Palestinians in Gaza face because of the occupation, because of the policies of Israeli siege and because of the violent methods of enforcement that the Israeli military uses to support those policies, continues all the time.

And this is, altogether, part of a broader agenda by the state of Israel to quell any sort of resistance to what it seeks to do throughout the entirety of the territory, which is to impose its will on the native population of Palestinians, both in the West Bank, in Gaza, in occupied territories, but also on Palestinian citizens of Israel, under the premise that it is the Jewish population that is in control, that deserves to be in control, and that any rights at all that may be afforded to, you know, non-Jews are really done as a favor, and not something that the Jewish state has to do because of principles of equality or tolerance or democracy or anything like that.

And the most recent step that the Israeli Knesset has taken, through the passage of this law, I think, is the best proof of that, showing very clearly that the Israelis no longer care about, you know, even pretending to balance this notion of being a Jewish state and a democracy. You know, I think that was never the case. Now it’s clear that they’re not even interested in pretending anymore. And, in fact, the initiator and sponsor of this legislation said, after its passage, “We are passing this bill to make sure that no one has any doubt, or even any thoughts, about Israel being a state of all its citizens. So it’s very clearly aimed at enshrining inequality, enshrining apartheid, in a constitutional way within Israeli law.

AG: Rebecca Vilkomerson, if you can respond to this, what’s being called the nation-state law that’s been passed?

REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Yeah. I mean, I think what Yousef said is exactly right. I think I found it shocking, but not surprising, because I think anytime you have a set of, again, foundational law—this is a basic law, so it’s sort of the equivalent of a constitutional bill that will then have an impact on any future laws. And it basically obligates the state to treat its non-Jewish citizens unequally. And that’s 20 percent of the overall Israeli population. So, by Israel enshrining racism and discrimination and apartheid into its basic law, that’s pretty shocking, at the same time not that surprising because of the ongoing policies that Israel has been pursuing for so many decades.

AG: And the response of the Jewish community?

RV: Well, here in the United States, I think it’s been interesting, because there’s much more unanimity than there usually is against this bill—you know, everyone, from J Street to the American Jewish Committee to the Reform and Conservative movements, which together represent half of American Jewry. Even some right-wing organizations like the ADL have had some limited concerns about the bill. And I think it’s a reflection of—you know, Peter Beinart sort of had this seminal essay that he wrote in 2010, which talked about the ways that the Israeli—the Jewish Israeli population was moving to the right, and the American Jewish population is staying sort of liberal and progressive, and there’s a split that’s happening. And I think we’re seeing the fruition of that, and people are just horrified by the sort of extreme-right-wing agenda that I think the Netanyahu government is feeling empowered by the Trump administration to enact fully.

AG: You wrote a piece in The Independent, signed by—well, about how 40 Jewish groups from 15 different countries have signed this joint statement—

RV: Yeah.

AG: —condemning attempts to stifle criticism with false—

RV: Yeah.

AG: —accusations, you say, of anti-Semitism.

RV: Right. This is a pretty historic moment. Again, we had 40 organizations from around the world, Jewish and Israeli organizations. And we felt like it was very important, because there are so many efforts right now, worldwide, lots of different specific strategies and tactics, but worldwide, trying to legislate definitions of anti-Semitism, that sometimes include chilling language, at the very minimum, and sometimes actually legislate that forms of anti-Zionism or certain critiques of Israel would be defined as anti-Semitic. And this has resulted in bank accounts being shut down in Germany and in the U.K., people being prosecuted in France. Here in the United States, there’s something called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which would make it potentially, you know, extremely difficult for people to speak out politically against Israeli human rights violations. So we felt it was very important to lend a Jewish voice against that and to say that BDS is a legitimate tactic to be using in this particular moment. That’s Boycott—

AG: And you’re talking about the Boycott, Divestment—

RV: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, yes.

AG: —and Sanctions movement. Yousef Munayyer, what happens from here, after this law is passed, and also in Gaza?

YM: Well, I think there’s great concern for what may happen in Gaza in the coming months. Of course, as we know, in the major Israeli bombardments of Gaza in 2008, 2009, and in the fall of 2012, in the summer of 2014, all of them preceded Israeli elections by a matter of months. And we are, you know, expecting Israeli elections in 2019. And given the recent behavior of the ruling coalition, with the passage of all kinds of right-wing legislation aimed at rallying the support of its base, I would not be surprised if they were to attempt another sort of massive operation against the Palestinian population in Gaza ahead of elections once again. So that’s something that I would definitely keep my eye on. But I—

AG: Yousef Munayyer—we have to leave it there for now—US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace.

Via the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

fly bird (26)
Sunday August 5, 2018, 12:05 am
Jewish Nation-State Law: Why Israel Was Never a Democracy.
July 25, 2018

By Ramzy Baroud

The head of the Arab Joint List Alliance at the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), Aymen Odeh, described the passing of the racist Jewish Nation-state Law as “the death of our democracy.”

Did Odeh truly believe that, prior to this law, he had lived in a true democracy? 70 years of Israeli Jewish supremacy, genocide, ethnic cleansing, wars, sieges, mass incarceration, numerous discriminatory laws, all aimed at the very destruction of the Palestinian people should have given enough clues that Israel was never a democracy, to begin with.

The Jewish Nation-state Law is merely the icing on the cake. It simply gave those who argued, all along, that Israel’s attempt at combining democracy with ethnic supremacy was racism masquerading as democracy, the munition they needed to further illustrate the point.

There is no escaping the moral imperative now. Those who insist on supporting Israel must know that they are supporting an unabashed Apartheid regime.

The new law, which was passed after some wrangling on January 19, has divorced Israel from any claim, however untrue, to being a democratic state.

In fact, the law does not mention the word ‘democracy’ in its wording, not even once. Reference to the Jewish identity of the state, however, are ample and dominant, with the clear exclusion of the Palestinian people from their rights in their historic homeland:
◾“The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people …
◾“The actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.
◾“The state will labor to ensure the safety of sons of the Jewish people …
◾“The state will act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious legacy of the Jewish people among the Jewish diaspora,” and so on.

But most dangerous of all is the stipulation that “the state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”

True, illegal Jewish settlements already dot the Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem; and a de facto segregation already exists in Israel itself. In fact, segregation is so deep and entrenched, even maternity wards in Israeli hospitals separate between mothers, based on their race.

The above stipulation, however, will further accelerate segregation and cement Apartheid, making the harm not merely intellectual and political, but physical as well.

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, has documented in its ‘Discriminatory Laws Database’ a list of over 65 Israeli laws that “discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the basis of their national belonging.”

According to Adalah, “These laws limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention.”

While it would be accurate to argue that the Jewish Nation-state bill is the officiation of Apartheid in Israel, this realization should not dismiss the previous reality upon which Israel was founded 70 years ago.

Apartheid is not a single law, but a slow, agonizing build-up of an intricate legal regime that is motivated by the belief that one racial group is superior to all others.

Not only does the new law elevate Israel’s Jewish identity and erase any commitment to democracy, it also downgrades the status of all others. Palestinian Arabs, the natives of the land of historic Palestine upon which Israel was established, did not feature prominently in the new law at all. There was a mere stipulation made to the Arabic language, but only to downgrade it from being an official language to a ‘special one.’

Israel’s decision to refrain from formulating a written constitution when it was founded in 1948 was not a haphazard one. Since then, it has been following a predicable model where it would alter reality on the ground to the advantage of Jews at the expense of Palestinian Arabs.

Instead of a constitution, Israel resorted to what it termed ‘Basic Laws’, which allowed for the constant formulation of new laws guided by the ‘Jewish State’s’ commitment to racial supremacy than to democracy, international law, human rights or any other ethnic value.

The Jewish Nation-state Law is itself a ‘Basic Law.’ And with that law, Israel has dropped the meaningless claim to being both Jewish and democratic. This impossible task was often left to the Supreme Court which tried, but failed, to strike any convincing balance.

This new reality should, once and for all, end the protracted debate on the supposed uniqueness of Israel’s political system.

And since Israel has chosen racial supremacy over any claim, however faint, to real democracy, western countries that have often shielded Israel must also make a choice on whether they wish to support an Apartheid regime or fight against it.

The initial statement by EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini was lackluster and feeble. “We are concerned, we have expressed this concern and we will continue to engage with Israeli authorities in this context,” she said while renewing her commitment to the ‘two-state solution.’

This is hardly the proper statement in response to a country that had just announced its membership in the Apartheid club.

The EU must end its wishy-washy political discourse and disengage from Apartheid Israel, or it has to accept the moral, ethical and legal consequences of being an accomplice in Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

Israel has made its choice and it is, unmistakably, the wrong one. The rest of the world must now make its choice as well, hopefully, the right one: standing on the right side of history – against Israeli Jewish Apartheid and for Palestinian rights.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is
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