The Knesset deserves much credit for performing an act of kindness towards the Jewish People this past week. It passed a basic law establishing something that goes without saying, but it turns out that what goes without saying needed to be enunciated, stressed and cemented into law.
At a time when both official and unofficial elements, by means of obvious and secret machinations, have set the undermining of the definition of Israel as an unqualifiedly Jewish state as their objective, an ideological and national floodgate has been created in the name of a principle that is unequalled in its significance for Israel's existence. This country, it avers, will not become just a "country of its citizens" whose main ideology is "man's honor and freedom" nor will it become a bi-national state.
We will not have a state whose amorphously defined democratic regime feels it can freely threaten the Jewish-Zionist ethos of Israel. Facing the unceasing Arab struggle to uproot the country, along with the flood of foreign workers who have infiltrated from Africa, it is incumbent upon us to build an impenetrable wall, at least on declarative and ideological levels.
Every Israeli involved in what happens in the Jewish state can differentiate between those who identify with and contribute to its security, defending it internally and overseas, from those who try to harm it. The vote for the law is not an act against tried and true allies whose respect and support strengthen the state in its struggle to survive and grow. After all, in a lighter vein, when I chose to marry my wife, it did not mean that I hate all other women.
Our leaders do not have to apologize for passing a law whose aim is to establish the state solely on the basis
What bore witness to the greatness of the hour, albeit by means of irony and intentional malice, was the sight of Arab MKs tearing the law to bits in front of the cameras. If anything, this showed beyond doubt how necessary and important the law is. The Arab MKs displayed their real opinion of Israel and their unending subversion, support for Hamas and the Mavi Marmara, their serving as microphones for terrorists and IDF haters, are justification enough for a clear and precise Nationality Law.
The Jewish state and the Arabs
As for the wording of the law, it is worthwhile having a look at the five pillars that hold up the Jewish state, its driving spirit and recognized symbols (my comments are in parentheses):
- Israel is the historic birthplace of the Jewish People (not of an imaginary Palestinian people)
- Only the Jewish People are entitled to self-determination in Israel (not the Arabs)
- Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel (not of Falestin)
- The only official language of the state is Hebrew (Arabic is not recognized as being on that level)
- Jewish settlement is a national value and will be encouraged by the state
The various elements of the Nationality Law read like a mosaic of ancient Jewish identity that includes land, nation, city and language. The Jewish People have marched through history with this ethical roadmap in their collective conscious for thousands of years. The central significance of the law is that the Arabs in Israel have been put in their place, as a group without national status and the possibility of a future Palestinian state within the Jewish state. Israel is presented with a full panoply of Jewish content, which means that de facto, Arab and Islamic content is limited to local status (as something of a compensation, Arabic is given what is termed "special status").
The process of passing the law stopped the plan hatched by those Arabs who identify themselves as Palestinians from taking advantage of the state's democratic institutions and systems to eat away at the state from within. Their struggle took different and varied shapes – lawsuits in the Supreme Court, raising the PA flag in public places, attempts to elicit the interference of international forces against the elected government of Jerusalem. Arab Israeli leaders have been carrying on a struggle for years, while a total lack of gratitude for the benefits Israel has heaped upon them had them opposing any form of national, let alone IDF, service.
Seventy years sufficed for the state to see the Arabs as an embittered public, prone to self-pity and unable to utter one good word about Israel and the lives they lead in the Jewish state. All that is heard is criticism and complaints, disgust and a lack of good will on the part of Arab leadership. The Jews have finally said "enough" to Arab subversion and the pipe dream that Israel is going to fall into Arab hands due to their constant political pounding.
The Jewish State and the Druze
The Druze, a true blessing for Israel, are not deprived of anything by the Nationality Law. There is not the slightest hint of a loss of status for the Druze in the governmental system, and there is no neglect and no disregard for this elite ethno-religious group in Israel. The Druze harbor no nationalist intentions on the lines of self-determination and have no religious or political aspirations regarding Jerusalem.
It is impressive to see how they have become an integral part of the country at its highest-ranking and multi-layered levels, in the IDF, communications and diplomacy. We don't know the half of it. The Nationality Law leaves their freedom and honor intact and will not change anything for the worse as far as they are concerned.
It might have been better to grant the Druze special status, despite the fact that this would cause complications with other minorities – Christian, Cherkassians, Bedouin and those Muslims who proudly consider Israel their home and are content with their Israeli identities.
If there is no Jewish state, there will be either an Arab, Islamic or bi-national state, all of which will not benefit the Druze. In fact, any political change in 'Falestin' is bad for them.
Jewish-Druze ties were strong before the establishment of the state. Fledgling agreements and ties of friendship preceded the mutual understanding that the Druze are important partners, despite their small numbers, in protecting the state. This pleasant relationship has a popular aspect – Jews vacation in the Druze villages of Pekiin, Beit Jan and Dalyat el Carmel, but not in the Israeli Arab villages of Saknin and Kefar Kara.
Israelis eat Druze pita and buy the homemade products of Grandma Jamilla. As a result of the near-strategic meshing of Druze in Israeli institutions, the army has always taken the Druze in Lebanon and Syria into account during periods of hostilities. It should be noted that Salem a-Shufi, a hero of Majdal Shams, was a fighter in the elite Matkal commando unit and saved the life of another fighter, Binyamin Netanyahu, during a military operation, years before that Jewish soldier became the prime minister of Israel.
Druze opposition to the law and the sharp criticism they have expressed, stem from discomfort that is not based on anything in the wording of the law itself or in its objectives. Loud disagreements between Jews and Druze serve as kindling for the Arab population, which sees the Druze as hired gunmen and despicable collaborators with the Jews. This is how the Arabs maneuver their own treasonous acts into venomous verbal attacks against the noble, loyal and trustworthy Druze. The Muslim Arabs would love nothing more than to see unnecessary conflict and an acrid atmosphere develop between the Druze and their Jewish neighbors.
There is a long history of enmity and suspicion between Druze and Muslims, making the Nationality Law's provisions that hit the Arabs hard a cause for Druze celebration. And that, I posit, is the way to look at the significance of the law initiated by the Netanyahu government.
It is a good thing that the law did not mention equality or equal rights anywhere. Not because there is no place for justified and beneficial equality, but because the Druze do not deserve mere equality – but extra equality. The state must come out with a comprehensive plan that truly gives the Druze preferential treatment in gratitude for the unwritten covenant between us.. This will show everyone that whoever sides with the Jews can join forces with them and enjoy stable and long-lasting mutual trust.
I was once told by a leading figure in Druze circles, that the Druze town of Dalyat al Karmel is not the Israeli Arab town of Umm el Fahm. That is absolutely true. Dalya deserves a thousand times more from the state than whatever – if anything – Umm al Fahm, which has spawned not a few terrorists, deserves to receive. It was Netanyahu who once coined the phrase "If you give, you get." Now is the time to make that reality, Mr. Prime Minister.
Translated by Rochel Sylvetsky