This Ruling Shames Even the Jewish Nation-state Law

Carolina Landsmann
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A park in the northern city of Carmiel, which recently cited the nation-state law to prevent reimbursing Arab schoolchildren, September 13, 2020
Carolina Landsmann

If I were the nation-state law, I would be ashamed of how I was used two weeks ago by a senior registrar of the Krayot Magistrate’s Court, Yaniv Luzon. Without a drop of respect – after all, I’m the Basic law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, not some regulation in a training manual for security checkers at Ben-Gurion Airport – Luzon used me to legitimize the dismissal of a suit by two Arab brothers, aged 6 and 10, from Carmiel.

All they wanted was reimbursement from the municipality for their transportation to Arabic-speaking schools outside their city, since there are no such schools in Carmiel. Excuse me Luzon, but what the hell do I have to do with reimbursement for rides to kindergarten for Arab kids in Carmiel?

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The interesting part is that even without the nation-state law, Luzon had six reasonable, formal clauses that would have enabled him to reject the petition (for instance, an Education Ministry director general’s circular on the distinction between private and public schools as it relates to mapping districts). But Luzon didn’t make do with all these. No, no, no.

Luzon is no technocrat. Senior registrar is just his formal title. What matters is what’s inside you. And inside Luzon, a Jewish soul yearns.

“Carmiel, a Jewish city, was intended to bolster Jewish settlement in the Galilee,” the senior registrar wrote. He then quoted Article 7 of the nation-state law with the pathos of someone who, at the very least, was seriously wounded in the War of Independence – not someone who was merely telling two children to pay for their ride to school.

In fact, the one who ought to be ashamed is Luzon himself. I, who was born to replace the Declaration of Independence, from whom lawmakers expected great things, whom some people saw as nothing less than a new identity card for Israel, was turned by Luzon into a vehicle for realizing his own special desires of preserving Jewish character.

I’ll never forget Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emotional remarks when the Knesset passed me. “This is a foundational moment in Zionist history and the history of Israel,” he declared from the Knesset podium. “One hundred twenty-two years after Herzl published his vision, we have enshrined the fundamental principle of our existence in law.”

Listen to Netanyahu, Luzon! I’m nothing less than the constitutional fulfillment of the vision of Zionism’s founding fathers! I’m the fundamental principle of our existence!

It’s too bad that isn’t how Luzon sees it; he wanted only to reduce me to Article 7. “You don’t understand anything,” Luzon would tell me. “Don’t be small-minded. Article 7 is the law’s heart and soul.”

After all, what does his ruling say? “The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value ... it can be an appropriate and dominant consideration in the municipality’s network of considerations, including with regard to establishing a school and setting a policy for funding transportation outside the city.”

Think like a senior registrar for a moment: “Establishing an Arabic-language school ... [or] funding transportation for Arab students, for every person in need and to any place, could change the demographic balance and damage the city’s character [today, the city’s population is around six percent Arab].”

Now everything is clear: If the municipality funds transportation to Arab schools outside the city or, heaven forbid, sets up Arab schools, it will become known as a welcoming city for Arabs to move to.

As a natural consequence, without anyone noticing, the Arab population will grow from six percent to 60 percent, and goodbye Carmiel.

Where any reasonable person would see two Israeli children aged 6 and 10 who want to go to school, Luzon sees the Reconquista of Carmiel and the end of the State of Israel. Instead of being ashamed or shaming Luzon, we should learn from him. Go to Luzon, all you lazy people. Watch what he does and grow wiser.

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