‘There is no other democracy in the Middle East," he declared. "There is no other Jewish state in the world.’What democracy insists on loyalty oaths? Which democracy insists on loyalty oaths for only one part of its population or potential population? Of course it is the very objection of Israeli Arabs to a ‘Jewish State’ which, by definition cannot be democratic as between Jew and non-Jew which has sparked the imposition of loyalty oaths. But a State that requires loyalty oaths is a state which is uncertain of its own raison d’etre. The demand that Arabs who have been expelled by the ‘Jewish State’ express their loyalty to that State, and a loyalty oath will as has been made clear, be extended to its Arab citizens, in itself demonstrates the uncertainty and lack of self-belief in the uber Zionists. As Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, made clear, the law is intended at dissident Israeli Arabs, spokespersons for the Arab population who articulate their desires and wishes will be stripped of their citizenship. So much for Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East! As Yishai stated:
"Declarations are not enough in the fact against incidents such as [MKs] Azmi Bishara and Hanin Zoabi," "Anyone who betrays the state will lose his citizenship."And if Israel’s Arab citizens refuse to be good Zionists they will be considered to be traitors. Even the Nazis didn’t expect the Jews to be loyal Germans. Quite the contrary in fact. Tony Greenstein
Published 14:54 10.10.10
Cabinet approves loyalty oath, but only for non-Jewish new citizens Amendment to Law of Citizenship would require any non-Jew seeking citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a 'Jewish and democratic state.'
By Jonathan Lis Tags: Israel news
Cabinet ministers on Sunday approved by a majority vote a controversial amendment which would require every non-Jew wishing to become a citizen of Israel to pledge loyalty to "the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."
Twenty-two ministers voted in favor of the amendment, including most of Likud, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu. Eight ministers were opposed, five of them from the Labor Party and three - Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan - from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud.
The divided cabinet spent hours deliberating Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman's proposed amendment to the Law of Citizenship ahead of the vote, including a proposal by Ne'eman himself that the pledge apply to Jews and non-Jews alike.
Defense Minister and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak warned earlier Sunday that he would vote against the amendment unless the cabinet agreed to include in the draft an allusion to Israel's Declaration of Independence.
Neither of those amendments was included in the final draft passed by cabinet.
As the cabinet began its deliberations Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated his support for the amendment. "The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and it is a democratic state for all its citizenship," he said. "Jews and non-Jews enjoy equality and full rights."
"Unfortunately, there are many today who tried to blur not only the unique connection of the Jewish people to its homeland, but also the connection of the Jewish people to its state,"
"Democracy is the soul of Israel and we cannot do without it. No one can preach democracy or enlightenment to us," Netanyahu added. "Zionism established an exemplary national state, a state that balances between the national needs of our people and the individual rights or every citizen in the country."
"There is no other democracy in the Middle East," he declared. "There is no other Jewish state in the world. The combination of these two lofty values expresses the foundation of our national life and anyone who would like to join us needs to recognize this."
Netanyahu's Labor coalition partners believe that his support for the loyalty oath is a sop to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, aimed at winning his Yisrael Beiteinu party's support for an extension on a settlement construction freeze that expired late last month. The U.S. and EU have urged Israel to extend the construction freeze, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that he will quit the current round of peace talks if the moratorium on new building in the West Bank is allowed to expire.
Controversial loyalty oath amendment sparks condemnation from a range of Israeli politicians; MK Tibi: Israel is a democracy for Jews, but not for Arabs.
Leader of the opposition and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni condemned on Sunday the cabinet's approval of a controversial amendment to the Citizenship Law requiring non-Jews seeking citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
"What we have seen today is politics at its worst. The sensitive issue of Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state has become subject to political horse-trading."
"It is essential that we maintain Israel's status as a Jewish state with equal rights for all its citizens. This proposal contributes nothing to this goal. On the contrary, it will cause internal conflict and damage [Israel's image in the world]."
Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi attacked earlier on Sunday the cabinet's approval of the amendment.
"The government of Israel has become subservient to Yisrael Beiteinu and its fascist doctrine," said Tibi. "No other state in the world would force its citizens or those seeking citizenship to pledge allegiance to an ideology."
"Israel has proven that it is not equal and is a democracy for Jews and not for Arabs," he added.
The amendment is one of the promises Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made to Yisrael Beitenu in the coalition agreements. Since coming into government Yisrael Beitenu has advanced a long list of "loyalty" laws, which many consider to be discriminatory against Israel's Arab citizens.
Yisrael Beiteinu was enthusiastic over the cabinet's majority vote, calling it "an important message to all those, both inside and outside, who seek to question the State of Israel's existence as the national state of the Jewish people."
Meretz chairman MK Haim Oron also condemned the amendment on Sunday, saying that "time and again it is evident that the government has adopted Lieberman's agenda in its entirety."
Oron added that the government has sunk into a "moral and political abyss."
Hadash chairman Mohammed Barakeh blamed on Sunday Netanyahu and Barak for supporting and promoting "mega-racist legislation."
Israeli Arab MK Talab al-Sana said on Sunday that "the amendment is a serious blow to democracy and will cause the exclusion of 20 percent of the country's citizens... [It] will situate Israel as the successor of Apartheid-era South Africa."
The cabinet voted Sunday by a majority in favor of the amendment, which was submitted by Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman. But ministers had been divided on the issue since it was first raised.
At the last minute, Ne'eman had suggested amending the draft to require Jews to sign a similar loyalty oath. Defense Minister Ehud Barak submitted an amendment of his own to the draft, demanding it include mention of "Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence of ."
Barak insisted that adding a reference to the Declaration of Independence "would be the best way to reflect the fundamental values of the State of Israel."
This slight change to include the declaration "would not harm the Arab minority," he said, noting that similar declarations are common in many countries in the world.
Most Labor politicians opposed the bill, including Isaac Herzog and Avishay Braverman, who lead the opposition, and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who was absent from the meeting but left a letter in which he expresses his opposition.
Minister Shalom Simhon (Labor) also skipped the meeting, as he was abroad on a business trip.
Herzog told Haaretz late Saturday that the resounding support for such an amendment showed that "fascism was devouring the margins of society."
"We are on a most dangerous slippery slope," he warned.
Likud ministers Dan Meridor and Benny Begin were expected to try and dissuade their cabinet colleagues from supporting the amendment.
Meridor led an assault on the amendment and warned that such an amendment to the law could severely damage relations with the Arab population in Israel.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin was also opposed to the bill, declaring:
"The students of Jabotinsky see no need for such bill. I am a fervent Zionist, and I need no strengthening of my belief. The establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel was an ethical act that the world recognized, and it gained great respect when we described our country as Jewish and democratic. This description is also anchored specifically in the Declaration of Independence and the Law on Elections, and any additions of this type can only be harmful.""This law will not assist us as a society and a state. On the contrary, it could arm our enemies and opponents in the world in an effort to emphasize the trend for separatism or even racism within Israel," Rivlin said.
"I am not opposed to saying each morning and evening that we are a Jewish and democratic state, but why do we need this law?" Rivlin said.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said, meanwhile, that he would propose his own bill that strip citizenship off of anyone convicted of disloyalty to the state.
"Declarations are not enough in the fact against incidents such as [MKs] Azmi Bishara and Hanin Zoabi," Yishai said in reference to two Israeli Arab lawmakers, one who is suspected of having contacts with enemy states and the other who took part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. "Anyone who betrays the state will lose his citizenship."