Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett speaking at the Knesset. Photo by Emil Salman
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The obsession with Jewish zealotry is not letting up. It seems as if the Israeli government has no concerns other than to repeatedly reaffirm the Jewish identity of Israel, whether it’s by setting up ridiculous agencies like the Jewish Identity Administration, or by approving bills calling for “educating toward strengthening the value of Israel as the Jewish nation-state.” But not for the purpose of enhancing Jewish scholarship, God forbid.

This shameless process has many participants, such as Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett. The economy minister on Sunday addressed a conference entitled “Is Israel’s identity as the Jewish nation-state to be enshrined in law?” He made it clear that the goal of the proposed law’s supporters is to turn Israel’s Arabs not just into de facto second-class citizens as a result of discrimination, but into de jure second-class citizens - as a matter of law.

In addition to the usual nationalist clichés like, “We must demonstrate zero tolerance for the national aspirations of Israeli Arabs. … Judaizing the Galilee and the Negev are in line with the state’s values. … If we do not get recognition [as the Jewish state], then the Palestinians will have a state-and-a-half, and we’ll have half a state,” Bennett said, “The High Court of Justice, since [former Court President] Aharon Barak, has been working consistently to alter the balance and deplete the country of all its Jewish significance. There has been a civil revolution at the expense of Judaism, as in the Ka’adan case.”

His reference to the High Court of Justice and the Ka’adan case – in which the court ruled that an Arab can buy a home in a Jewish community – demonstrates Bennett’s true intentions. In 1995, Adel and Iman Ka’adan petitioned the High Court of Justice after their application to join the community of Katzir was rejected because they were Arabs. In their important ruling in 2000, the justices stated that it is actually the State of Israel’s Jewishness that makes it crucial to uphold the value of equality.

Barak wrote: “From the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state we do not in any way derive that the state should discriminate among its citizens; … the opposite is true: Equality of rights between all human beings in Israel - whatever their religion or national affiliation - derived from the State of Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state.”

But Barak’s words, which are meant to serve as the moral underpinnings of the Jewish and democratic state, are in Bennett’s eyes an example of “depleting the state of Jewish significance.” The chairman of the “Jewish Home” party interprets “Jewish” in a limited and racist fashion, and wants to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t have the right type of blood flowing through his veins. When Bennett says, “We must mark the state as Jewish,” what he really wants is to mark all those who are not Jewish with a mark of Cain.

His obsession, shared by the current government, is to turn the Arab population into second-class citizens.