Likud MP Yariv Levin has submitted a new bill in the Israeli Knesset which began as a simple declaration of Hebrew as the “only official language” and quickly spiraled into a far-reaching declaration that would prioritize Judaism over democratic concerns.
The bill got its start after a failed effort by Kadima MP Avi Dichter, but expanded the proposal dramatically, including a declaration that self-determination in the state of Israel “is unique to the Jewish people.”
If the bill passed it would oblige Israeli courts to prioritize Israel’s “Jewish identity” over all other matters, while formalizing the status of all non-Jewish Israelis as second-class citizens, at best.
Levin openly touted his bill as a means of “Judaizing the land,” which sparked immediate anger from opposition MPs, who termed the legislation a potential disaster. Levin maintained that it was time Israel stopped simply being a “democracy with some Jewish elements” and formally became a “Jewish state.”
Even coalition partners in the Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties are said to be balking at the proposal, after those two had sought their own versions of a proposal on Hebrew as a national language. MPs from those parties say that they will still offer those proposals, and that they will be “based on the values of Israel’s declaration of independence,” and significantly softer than the Levin bill.