Israel Bill Would Order Courts to Give Priority to Jewishness Over Democracy

Would Define Israel as a 'Jewish and Democratic State,' But One More Than the Other

Israel’s far-right coalition continues to grapple with different variations of a new draft bill that seeks to give Israel’s status as a Jewish nation-state primacy over all other legal concerns, including potential conflicts with being a democracy.

The latest revision defines Israel as “a Jewish and Democratic state,” but makes clear the first part is more important than the second part, explicitly ordering the Israeli High Court to favor Israel’s Jewish character over its democracy when the two issues conflict.

This is a particularly important issue for parts of the far-right coalition that complain the High Court often overrules some of the more overtly anti-democratic moves they try to make, usually involving hasty attempts to ban all Arab parties from participating in elections.

The implication of the bill, it seems, would be that so long as the Knesset was arguing that banning Arabs from elections was in the best interests of Israel’s Jewish character, the clearly anti-democratic move would be untouchable by the courts.

Whether this passes or not remains to be seen, as it will doubtless be uniformly opposed by the opposition, and some of the more moderate members of the coalition may be scared away by the anti-democracy vibe the whole effort gives off.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of