We're getting tired of junk legislation

Matti Golan

Instead of trying to inflame the Arabs, Knesset members might start thinking about our real needs.

One sometimes has the impression that there are members of Knesset who think that the Statute Book is a garbage can into which they can throw all kinds of crazy ideas that arise in their fevered, not to say stupid, brains. We have had a few bills of this sort recently, all of them supposed to stiffen the national backbone - with words. People of this kind believe that if they call something by one name rather than another, that's what will change the face of the country, its fate and future.

For example, the bill tabled in the Knesset yesterday. It’s a bill for a Basic Law that will redefine the character of the country. The existing description in three Basic Laws is "a Jewish and democratic state." Now they want a new definition whereby "the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people." And what about democracy? That will continue to exist (at least in the law), not alongside the state's Jewishness, but subordinate to it. That is to say, first we will be a Jewish state, and only after that democratic.

I, for example, am Jewish, but I would prefer to live in any democratic country rather than in a Jewish state that is not democratic. I reckon that most of the country's citizens think likewise. So why make changes? I read that forty members of Knesset support the initiative, which means that a spirit of evil nonsense is taking over the Knesset.

At the same time, the bill's sponsors also seek to determine that the sole official language of the country will be Hebrew, without Arabic and English as at present, the intention of course being to oust Arabic. I'm trying to understand: what is the point of that? How exactly will it strengthen the country? Is "the Jewish nation state" stronger than a "Jewish state"? Why mess around with words? It looks as though they are deliberately looking for problems. Clearly a law like this will ignite flames. Who needs it now? Who needs it at all?

It seems that there are Knesset members, generally on the right, racking their brains to think how they can stir up a small storm, or preferably a big one. They are particularly fond of legislative initiatives that are sure to provoke the country's Arab citizens. Why? What good does it do? The deliberate aim is apparently to sow enmity between Jews and Arabs in Israel, because achieving that makes the possibility of dialogue (which is zero anyway) even more remote, and also strengthens the right's demands for more settlements and settlers.

The phenomenon is starting to become wearying and repulsive. If you petty politicians would only give it a rest. Stop your favorite sport of dealing with the Arabs, and start dealing with the Israelis. Listen to the voices raised in protest by democratic Jews groaning under the yoke of the state, and don't annoy them with "the Jewish nation," which is of no help to them. Found settlements within the Green Line instead of beyond it, so that the Jews will have somewhere to live. Start acting out of love of the people of Israel, and not out of hatred for the Arabs.

I wish to make clear that I do not object to what is considered right-wing legislation, as long as it has some practical purpose, preferably positive. For example, I certainly support Avigdor Liberman's proposal to transfer Arab border villages (in the Wadi Ara area) to Palestinian sovereignty. There is no question of a physical transfer, only a change in sovereignty, and no-one will leave their home.

A proposal like this is not semantic; it does not concern words, but action. It has operative significance. It is therefore certainly worthy of serious discussion and serious examination, which cannot be said of bills that are declarative and are aimed at causing a provocation. I also don't think that Liberman's proposal should be considered particularly right-wing. It is in the interests of any citizen, of the left, right, or center, who wants the Jewish majority in Israel to grow and the Palestinian minority to shrink. Why does the left criticize this proposal? Because it bears Liberman's name, and for many on the left, that is enough to object to it.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 4, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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