Since 1993, Israel’s Supreme Court has used Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom to rule on the constitutionality of a variety of statutes and policies that affect Israel’s Jewish character, including laws regarding the allocation of state land, the status of Hebrew as Israel’s language, citizenship, military conscription for Haredim and commerce on Shabbat. These cases called for delicate balance between Israel’s democratic and Jewish character, but no such balance was achieved, because Israel’s Jewish character, unlike its democratic character, was not anchored in any basic law. The law addresses this asymmetry and encourages a more sophisticated and balanced legal discourse for these challenging issues.
The protection of individual rights is covered in Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, which states that all Israelis, regardless of nationality or religion, are guaranteed all the rights customarily protected in free democracies. Basic Law: Nation-State addresses national character and neither addresses nor affects the individual rights of any Israeli citizen. Free nation-states around the world have similar laws to protect their own national character.
On the contrary, Basic Law: Nation-State explicitly preserves the prior special status of the Arabic language.
Basic Law: Nation-State pointedly does not address religious practice or denominations at all. It does not refer to the official rabbinate or its authority. The law mandates that Israel “shall act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious heritage of the Jewish People among Jews in the Diaspora”; no specific version of Judaism is specified.
Head of the International Law Department Professor Eugene Kontorovich speaks in the Knesset on other nation states
Kohelet Deputy Chairman Adv. Ran Bar Yoshafat explains how the Nation State bill does not infringe on individual rights
Professor Eugene Kontorovich interviews on Al-Jazeera
Professor Eugene Kontorovich interviews on MSNBC
Professor Emmanuel Navon interviews in i24 News
Articles About The Nation-State Law
Nation-State Law Conference
Kohelet Nation-State Conference (translated) - part 1
Kohelet Nation-State Conference (translated) - part 2
About Kohelet Forum
The Kohelet Policy Forum is a think tank based in Jerusalem that strives to secure Israel’s future as the nation-state of the Jewish people, to strengthen representative democracy, and to broaden individual liberty and free-market principles in Israel. The Forum is non-partisan and receives no public funding from the State of Israel or any other country. Our research is given to decision makers at no charge.