Israel’s ‘Jewish State’ Bill Divides Nation

President Rivlin Opposes Law

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to push his bill to change the nation’s Basic Laws to define Israel as an exclusively Jewish State, despite growing signs that the wildly controversial bill is splitting the coalition, and indeed the nation.

The bill is a variant of a proposal that would’ve made the same definition, but guaranteed equal rights for all ethnic and religious minorities. Netanyahu’s version removed all mentions of equal rights.

The initial bill was widely opposed, and the new version is even moreso, with many believing the move is an effort to explicitly end Israel’s claims to be both a “Jewish” and “Democratic” state by cementing one in law at the expense of the other.

That’s fueled a backlash among politicians as well as the general public, and President Reuven Rivlin was the latest to come out against it today, insisting the bill serves no purpose and creates new problems for Israel, particularly surrounding the split between Jewish and Democratic statehood.

The timing of the bill is also problematic, coming amid growing tensions with the nation’s Arab minority. The effort to effectively define them as second-class citizens by law isn’t going to set well, even if the bill ultimately fails.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of