Prominent U.S. Jewish Organization Calls for Nation-state Rethink

Israel should be both the Jewish ethnic homeland and a democracy, says the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to MK Zeev Elkin during a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee  in Jerusalem.
Reuters

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs is the latest Jewish American organization to question the need for, and timing of, the government's proposed nation-state legislation.

"A country can be both an ethnic homeland, as Israel is for the Jewish people, and a vibrant democracy, as Israel is for all its citizens," the organization said in a statement released on Friday.

"We join Israeli leaders like President Reuven Rivlin in questioning the timing of this legislation and hope that its consideration can be further postponed."

The council is the representative body of the American Jewish community dealing with all aspects of relations between the community and the wider society.

The nation-state bill, which is championed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would deny communal rights to Israel's non-Jewish citizens and establish Jewish law as the inspiration for civil law in Israel. It has caused deep controversy in the cabinet and the country at large.

"We pledge our support to efforts to solidify the commitments made at Israel’s founding: that Israel will guarantee the social and political rights of all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex; that it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture," the community said. "These are values that the worldwide Jewish community has justifiably taken pride in for the past 66 years and they will continue to be a source of pride forever.”