Israel lawmakers approve controversial Jewish identity law

Israel’s Knesset [official website] approved a bill [text] Wednesday that champions the Jewish nation-state and Jewish national identity. T

he bill passed by a 62-55 margin.

The bill designates the state of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people, Jerusalem as its capital and Hebrew as its official language. It reaffirms the Star of David and the menorah as national symbols for the nation’s flag and emblem, respectively. The bill officially recognizes the country’s independence day and days of remembrance. It also designates the Hebrew calendar as the official calendar of the state and “Hatikvah” as its anthem. Finally, the new law declares Israel “open to Jewish immigration and the ingathering of exiles” and specifically makes “development of Jewish settlement” a national interest.

The new law is to be enshrined within Israel’s Basic Laws [materials].

The bill is controversial with proponents praising it as a cornerstone of Israeli national identity and Zionist ideals. At the same time, opponents, such as the Knesset’s predominately Arab Joint List political coalition, criticize the bill as promoting racism that is likely to lead to discrimination against non-Jewish Israelis.

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