Thursday, October 07, 2010

Israeli Loyalty Oath Set To Pass

The Israeli cabinet recently approved a controversial right wing proposal to have new Israeli citizens swear loyalty to "Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."

This is understood by everyone as a slap in the face of non Jewish Israelis (25% of the population) and an attempt to make any demands that Israel be a "state for all its citizens" beyond the pale, and perhaps grounds for revocation of citizenship.

By way of comparison, imagine if the U.K. demanded that all new citizens swear allegiance to the "United Kingdom as an Anglo-Saxon and democratic state" or if Italy demanded a declaration of loyalty to "Italy as a Catholic and democratic state."

Interestingly, Jews claiming citizenship under the Law of Return are exempt. (Are they afraid of a few lefty olim who might refuse to take such an oath?) Thus practically speaking the new law will apply mostly to relatives (typically new wives) of Israeli Arabs who apply for Israeli citizenship under the family re-unification clauses of the Citizenship and Immigration Act.

But still the symbolism of the new law is clear. To put non-Jewish Israelis in their place, and to squelch any liberal voices calling for Israel to be a secular state for all its citizens. It further ensconces Israel as an "ethnic democracy" where some people are more equal than others. It moves Israel towards a totalitarianism where the official state ideology cannot be challenged, and where people who do challenge that ideology can be labelled traitors and be denied (and perhaps lose) citizenship rights. And it further supports the historical mistake (in my opinion anyway) of the total conflation of the State of Israel and the Jewish People.


Anonymous David said...


is why this

demonstrates how “Jewish” and “democratic” cannot be fused into a single adjectival phrase.

1:01 pm  
Anonymous Eric said...

It's the Haredi olim that wont swear allegiance -

5:07 pm  
Blogger Sydney Nestel said...

Eric - of course you are right! And for some its the "democratic" part that they would object too.

7:16 am  
Anonymous Shmuel said...

The bill is indeed entirely symbolic for the moment, because family unification for Palestinians (the only group to whom the new law would apply anyway) has been suspended since 2000. In the meantime, even Barak has jumped on the racist bandwagon, adding the fig leaf "in keeping with the values expressed in Israel's declaration of independence" (or something to that effect).

8:45 am  

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