Israel Prize laureates against Nationality Law

40 Israel Prize laureates to petition Supreme Court against law stating that Israel is the Jewish people's nation state.

Ben Ariel ,

Leftists protest against Nationality Law
Leftists protest against Nationality Law
Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90

About 40 Israel Prize laureates will file a petition to the Supreme Court on Sunday morning against the Nationality Law, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper reports.

Among those who signed the petition are author David Grossman, actor and comedian Gavri Banai and sculptor Dani Karavan. They are demanding that a clause anchoring minority rights in Israel be added to the Nationality Law.

"Without the inclusion of minority groups within the definition of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, the Nationality Law is unconstitutional," the petition reads.

The petitioners propose to add a sentence at the beginning of the Nationality Law stating that "the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people" and that it is "also the state of the entire minority living there."

"Israel is the state of the Jewish people from a national standpoint, but from a civil and legal point of view it is also the state of its Arab citizens, the state of its Druze, Bedouin and others. More than two million citizens of the state are not 'guests' of the nation-state of the Jewish people: This state belongs to them, too, and they belong to it,” the petitioners claim. "The Nationality Law must maintain the uniqueness of the Jewish people in its state, but also accept the other citizen under the same basic law.”

One of the petitioners, Israel Prize laureate Professor David Harel of the Weizmann Institute, said, "The principle of equality among all citizens of the state is not only sacred because some people believe in it, but because it is truly a cornerstone of democracy. As soon as the law was enacted in this way, they automatically excluded more than 20 percent of the population, and it is no longer a democracy."

The Nationality Law states that Israel is the Jewish people's nation state and establishes as law Israel's flag, symbols, the Hebrew language, and various other items mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

The law does not affect the rights of minority citizens in Israel, but has been criticized by Arab countries, as well as by Israeli Arabs, who claim that it is discriminatory.

In April, the Meretz party submitted a bill to repeal the Nationality Law passed by the previous Knesset.

Then-Meretz chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg said at the time that "the Nationality Law is a racist and discriminatory law that has no place in a democratic state. The only answer to the deepening of racism is the deepening of the partnership and the partnership requires that this law be thrown into the dustbin of history.”