The recently enacted Basic Law: “Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People” is a cause of great concern. Seemingly enacted for internal political reasons, while defining Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, the law fails to provide any constitutional guarantees for the rights of the indigenous and other minorities living in the country. Palestinian citizens of Israel, constituting 20% are flagrantly excluded from the law.
It is beyond conception that a Law with constitutional effect ignores an entire segment of the population, as if its members never existed. The law might not have practical effects, yet it sends an unequivocal signal to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, to the effect that in this country they are not at home. The Arabic language has been downgraded from an official language to a language with “a special status”, and with the commitment to work on the development of Jewish settlement in the land, with no mention of the development of the country for the rest of its inhabitants.
This Basic Law is exclusive rather than inclusive, disputed rather than consensual, politicized rather than being rooted in the basic norms that are common and acceptable to all fractions of the population.
This discriminatory law directly contravenes the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, as well as Israel’s own Declaration of Independence. The first guaranteed the establishment of a Jewish State while ensuring full civil rights to the Arabs living therein and in the Second, the founders of the Country clearly and unequivocally committed to foster its development for the benefit of all its inhabitants and to ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all, irrespective of religion, race or sex.
Finally, this law contravenes and contradicts the Basic Law: “Human Dignity and Liberty” enacted in 1995 that guarantees the respect of the dignity of every person. Where there is discrimination, there is no dignity.
In other words, the law says that there are not equal rights between Jews and Arabs and refuses to acknowledge their existence.
It [is] not enough to have and guarantee individual rights. Any state with large minorities ought to recognize the collective rights of these minorities, and guarantee the preservation of their collective identity, including their religious, ethnic and social traditions.
The Christian citizens of Israel have the same concerns as any other non-Jewish communities with respect to this Law. They call upon all citizens of the State of Israel who still believe in the basic concept of equality among citizens of the same nation, to voice their objection to this law and the dangers emanating thereof to the future of this Country.
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem