00:05 GMT28 November 2020
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    Israel's parliament has passed a new constitutional law declaring the country to be a nation-state. Law declared Hebrew as Israel's only official language. Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. Abraham Diskin, and Israeli political scientist.

    Sputnik: What is your take on the new law passed in Israel?

    Abraham Diskin: Generally speaking, we're talking about a declarative law, which is exercising the right of self-determination used by most democratic countries in the world, without hurting any individual right of any individual [whether] Jewish, etc. etc. People are using all kinds of twisted descriptions of this law, which is really declarative in its nature, in order to smear Israel with no basis.

    In Israel until now there was no official status to any language. Practically of course, Hebrew is the living language and most official documents are written in Hebrew. Some of them are also translated to Arabic.

    The only place where legally the official nature of languages is mentioned is in a British law of 1922 which stated that English is supreme to both Arabic and Hebrew. 

    Now, it says when Hebrew is the language of the state, Arabic has a special status. It also says in the law that no practical status that Arabic had in Israel before the passing of this law is going to be hurt or changed.

    There is no real damage to any individual or community rights in this law, and people are using it in order to smear Israel.

    Sputnik: Let's just talk about what exactly this law contains, and what its implications really are.

    Abraham Diskin: Generally speaking, the law says that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Only the Jewish people have the right of self-determination in Israel. It talks about the anthem of Israel. One article that faced criticism was the article talking about the language. So really only symbolic things, and that's it, that's the law.

    There are not going to be any direct implications. The law says first of all that it's a nation state of Jewish people. 

    By the way, Israel, including under this right-wing government, is ready to recognize a nation-state of the Palestinian people if a peace agreement is achieved. And [the law] says what is the anthem, what is the capital of Israel, what is the official language without hurting the status of Arabic in Israel. It says that the national holiday of Israel is the independence day of Israel. By the way, most if not all of the things mentioned in the law are mentioned already in the Israeli laws. 

    The practical implication is concerning the Supreme Court of Israel. The Supreme Court is actually the most activist supreme court in the world. It cancels laws and it cancels deeds of the Israeli government very, very often based on arguments which are interpreted from basically those dealing with human rights in Israel. So they say when we say when the government does not recruit female pilots for instance that it violates human rights of women, etc., etc.

    The law is expected for a few reasons. One reason is to balance the inclinations of the Supreme Court which are obviously very, very much to the left. The other reason was because many, many people in the world and unfortunately also in Israel are not ready to accept the right of the Jewish people to have a state of its own. Many people say so all over the globe and even Jews in Israel say Jews cannot have their own nation state, as other peoples do.

    The third reason is that people believe there is a contradiction between the existence of a nation-state and democracy. But that 'contradiction' exists only in Israel. It doesn't exist in Finland, Denmark, Poland, etc., etc. Only in Israel there is a contradiction between democracy and the act that the country is a nation-state.

    Abraham Diskin is a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a professor at the Interdisciplnary Center in Herzliya. The views and opinions expressed by Abraham Diskin are those of the expert, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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