Yariv Oppenheimer
Yariv OppenheimerFlash 90

Verbal sparring broke out between Dani Dayan, foreign envoy for the Yesha Council which represents Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and Yariv Oppenheimer, chairman of far-left extremist group Peace Now, over Sunday's vote on the "Jewish State" bill. 

Dani Dayan and Yariv Oppenheimer debate Zionism
Dani Dayan and Yariv Oppenheimer debate ZionismTwitter; screenshot

Much talk has been relayed back and forth in Israeli media over the law, which would codify elements of Israel's national identity as distinctly Jewish. 

Amidst a slew of media coverage on the law, Dayan tweeted before Sunday's vote with a statement on Zionism.

"I must say it, even if it's difficult," he said. "The Ministers who are voting today against the 'Jewish State' bill are voting against a fundamental Zionist principle." 

Oppenheimer jumped at the tweet, responding with a personal attack.

"It's our luck that, in our generation, we have people like you to define for all of us what true Zionism is," he sneered. 

Dayan shot back immediately. "Excuse me?!," he said. "Is there a debate between us on the fact that a basic Zionist principle is a Jewish state in the Land of Israel?! Wholly or partially, what is the State of Israel in this debate if not a fundamental principle [of Zionism]?" 

"There is a debate between us regarding this principle, because besides it stands the principle of democracy, which promises equal rights to every citizen," Oppenheimer replied. 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu first announced the bid to formally declare Israel a Jewish state on "Nakba Day," the Palestinian Arab "Day of Hate" which slams Israel for its own existence. Opposition and leftist MKs have denounced the bill for being "undemocratic." 

"The [proposed law] would change the definition of Israel as the Jewish State of Israel, and would not harm the status of every individual citizen in the State of Israel itself," Netanyahu said, in a defense of the law.

"It would defend the right of settlement in the Land of Israel as a Basic Law, it would anchor within our Basic Laws fundamental national symbols - our national flag, our language, our national anthem, and other elements of our national identity."

"These elements are under constant attack, which ebbs and flows, from abroad and even at home [in Israel]," he continued. "But, the fundamental existence of the State of Israel flows from its existence as the national home for the Jewish people and the deep bond between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel."