The Atlantic

Israel's New Law Inflames the Core Tension in Its Identity

Critics, especially Jews in the diaspora, see it as a definitive declaration in favor of a Jewish identity at the expense of a democratic one.
Source: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Israel passed a law this week that has been floating around the Knesset for a half-dozen years. Branded the “nation-state bill,” the legislation declares that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, and that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It establishes Hebrew as the official language of Israel and downgrades Arabic to a language with “special status,” even though many people in Israel’s sizeable Arab minority primarily speak in Arabic. The law also asserts that Jewish settlement—without specifying where—is a national value, and promises to encourage and advance settlement efforts.

Some liberal Jews, especially outside of Israel, are outraged. “The damage that will be done by this new nation-state law to the legitimacy of the Zionist vision … is enormous,” wrote Rick Jacobs, the head of the U.S.-based Union for Reform Judaism, in a press release. J Street,

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