In Carmiel last week they reaped the spoiled fruit of the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. Contrary to all the false statements made by proponents of the law during its legislation – that it was largely symbolic, that it was faithful to the values of the Declaration of Independence and the principle of equality – it turns out to be its critics’ worst nightmare: a legal norm that legalizes Jewish supremacy and Arab inferiority in Israel.
The Krayot Magistrate’s Court used the nation-state law to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of an Arab brother and sister, aged 6 and 10, who live in Carmiel with their family. The suit asked the court to order the city to reimburse them for the cost of transport to an Arab-language school outside of Carmiel, since there are no Arab schools in the city.
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“Carmiel, a Jewish city, was meant to establish Jewish settlement in the Galilee,” wrote the court’s chief registrar, Yaniv Luzon, in his ruling, sending a clear message to all Arab children in Israel that they are no more than a demographic threat to be contained by any means. “Establishing an Arabic-language school ... [and] funding school transportation for Arab students ... could change the demographic balance and damage the city’s character.” The city’s population is about 6 percent Arab.
Without a trace of shame, Luzon stated that preserving the Jewish character of Carmiel in accordance with the nation-state law gives him legal justification for tossing out the Arab children’s lawsuit. The masks are off: The nation-state law has legalized racism and Jewish supremacy, and allows the state to discriminate against Arab citizens in order to keep them from living where they choose under equal conditions, thus deepening ethnic segregation in Israel.
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“The attacks from the left, which calls itself Zionist, reveal how low the left has sunk,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the law’s critics during its passage. “The Israeli left has to do some soul-searching,” he said. “It must ask itself why a basic tenet of Zionism, a Jewish nation-state for the Jewish people in its land, has become a rude concept, a dirty word,”
But Luzon’s ruling proves exactly the opposite. It exposes the depths to which Israel has sunk under Netanyahu’s leadership, and proves that he is the one who must do the soul-searching, because it’s on his watch that Zionism has been twisted into a project of Jewish supremacy of the ugliest kind.
On December 22, the High Court of Justice is scheduled to hear 15 petitions against the nation-state law. These petitions argue, among other things, that it’s a colonialist law with apartheid traits. Let’s hope that after the law was exposed in all its shame in Carmiel, there will no longer be any doubt regarding the inherent risk it poses to Israel’s democratic character, and of the constitutional obligation to expunge it from the law books.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.