‘We are not ashamed of Zionism. We are proud of our state,’ Netanyahu affirmed in defense of the new nation-state law, while assuring minorities, in particular the Druze, that their rights will be upheld. 

By: United with Israel Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s recently passed nation-state law, which defines Israel as the Jewish state by law and enshrines its unique character while affording equal rights to all citizens of diverse faiths.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, the Israeli premier said that the State of Israel “is the nation-state of the Jewish people, with full equal rights for all of its citizens. This is the meaning of the words ‘a Jewish and democratic state.'”

Netanyahu explained that Israel had never determined the national rights of the Jewish People in its land in a basic law that would be equivalent to a constitutional law – until now, when it passed the nation-state law.

“What is the meaning of national rights? They define the flag, the national anthem, the language and, of course, the fact that one of the basic goals of the state is the ingathering of exiles of our people and their absorption here in the land of Israel,” Netanyahu stated. “This is the meaning of the Zionist vision.”

Opposition to New Law ‘Nonsense’

Left-wing organizations criticized the law as supposedly excluding minorities and creating discrimination, but Netanyahu slammed those claims.

“Does determining that our flag bears the Star of David somehow abrogate the individual right of anyone among Israel’s citizens? Nonsense, but determining this ensures that there will not be another flag,” he stated. “Does determining that Hatikvah is our national anthem detract from the personal rights of any person in Israel? Nonsense, but it does determine that there will not be another anthem.”

Israel moved to enshrine its unique Jewish character in law as “already there are proposals to replace the flag and the anthem in the name of equality, as it were. There is opposition to the idea of a nation-state in many countries, but first of all in the State of Israel, something that undermines the foundation of our existence, and therefore, the attacks emanating from left-wing circles that define themselves as Zionist are absurd and expose the nadir to which the left has sunk,” he elucidated.

The first clause of the law states that “the land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established.”

The second clause says that “the state of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.”

The third clause declares that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

The law further anchors in basic legislation Israel’s flag, its national anthem, the symbols of the state and that Jerusalem is our eternal capital.

“Would the fathers of Zionism not sign it?” Netanyahu asks.

“Over decades the opposition has preached to us that we must withdraw to the 1967 lines in order to ensure that Israel remains the national state of the Jewish people in which there is a Jewish majority in the state. Then suddenly when we pass a basic law to ensure exactly this, the left cries out in protest? What hypocrisy,” Netanyahu charged.

He called on the Israeli left to “search within itself. It needs to ask itself why the basic term of Zionism, ‘a Jewish national state of the Jewish people in its land’, has become a rude term for it, a rude word, a principle that one should be ashamed of. We are not ashamed of Zionism. We are proud of our state, that it is a national home for the Jewish people, which strictly upholds – in a manner that is without peer – the individual rights of all its citizens.”

‘Partnership of Fate’ With the Druze

Turning to members of the Druze minority, many of whom have stated they were offended by the law, Netanyahu sai: “As opposed to the infuriating words that we hear from left-wing spokespersons, the result of which is the taunting of the Jewish state, the feelings of our Druze brothers and sisters touch my heart.

“There is nothing in this law that infringes on your rights as equal citizens of the State of Israel, and there is nothing in it that harms the special status of the Druze community in Israel. The people of Israel, and I among them, love and appreciate you. We very much esteem the partnership and the covenant between us,” he underscored.

“There are unending attempts to rescind the definition of the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. We legislated the nation-state law in order to ensure that Israel will remain the national state of our people – this is the purpose of the state’s existence. The law does not detract at all from the individual rights of anybody. It is designed to make the necessary legal balance, the time for which has come, in order to ensure the character of the State of Israel,” the prime minister declared at another meeting later in the day with Druze representatives.

“You are describing genuine feelings and we must find a solution. I will continue [holding] consultations. We will establish a team led by staff head Yoav Horowitz and we will submit forthwith recommendations for actions that will strengthen the important ties between us,” Netanyahu vowed.