Israel’s decision to define itself as “the Nation-State of the Jewish People” is being sharply criticized by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which says the decision “fails to provide any constitutional guarantees for the rights of the indigenous and other minorities living in the country.”
“It is beyond conception that a Law with constitutional effect ignores an entire segment of the population, as if its members never existed. The law might not have practical effects, yet it sends an unequivocal signal to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, to the effect that in this country they are not at home,” said the Patriarchate, which is the see of the Catholic archbishop of Jerusalem.
“The Arabic language has been downgraded from an official language to a language with “a special status,” and with the commitment to work on the development of Jewish settlement in the land, with no mention of the development of the country for the rest of its inhabitants,” the statement continued.
Earlier this month, the Knessett, Israel’s legislative body, passed the bill in a vote of 62-55, with two abstentions, enshrining it as one of the country’s “Basic Laws,” which, similar to a constitution, is the legal authority for the nation.
“This Basic Law is exclusive rather than inclusive, disputed rather than consensual, politicized rather than being rooted in the basic norms that are common and acceptable to all fractions of the population,” said the statement, which also said that it was in direct contradiction to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, Israel’s Declaration of Independence, as well as its own Basic Law on “Human Dignity and Liberty.”
“It not enough to have and guarantee individual rights. Any state with large minorities ought to recognize the collective rights of these minorities, and guarantee the preservation of their collective identity, including their religious, ethnic and social traditions,” according to the statement from the Patriarchate.
“The Christian citizens of Israel have the same concerns as any other non-Jewish communities with respect to this Law. They call upon all citizens of the State of Israel who still believe in the basic concept of equality among citizens of the same nation, to voice their objection to this law and the dangers emanating thereof to the future of this Country,” it concluded.