J Street, ADL Slam Controversial 'Nation-state' Bill for Undermining 'Israel's Diversity'

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Celebrating Independence Day 2017
Celebrating Independence Day 2017, by Rabin Square, Tel AvivCredit: Moti Milrod

Two leading Jewish groups in the United States criticized the Israeli government's recently approved "nation-state" bill, which has created political controversy in Israel, and seems to now be doing the same in the American Jewish community. 

On Tuesday morning, the Anti-Defamation League came out against the bill on its' Twitter account, stating that "Israel's diversity is source of strength. Removing Arabic as an official language harms efforts to build shared society." This criticism refers to a specific provision in the bill, which would remove Arabic as an official language in Israel and state that "the right to realize self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people." The bill still needs to pass further readings on the Knesset floor in order to go into effect. 

The left-wing organization J Street released later on Tuesday a harsher statement, calling the bill "a bad idea" and explaining that it "does nothing to enshrine Israel’s status as a homeland for the Jewish people, while sending a dangerous message to its Arab minority that they are second-class citizens." 

The statement also said that "it is sad and deeply troubling that – yet again – the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lending its hand to measures that erode the country’s democratic fabric, while going against the basic principles set out in the Israeli Declaration of Independence."

While most of the organized Jewish community in the United States, as of Tuesday afternoon, has not responded to the legislation, it is expected that other groups will also express their reservations from it - some publicly, and others in private channels with Israeli officials. No group has yet to come out in favor of the bill.

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