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Israel's Nation-State Law Explained | NowThis World

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Published on Apr 7, 2019

Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s parliament passed a bill that officially declared Israel a Jewish state in July 2018. The ‘nation-state’ legislation defines things like Israel’s national holidays, symbols, and the state’s connection to Jewish heritage.
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Supporters of the bill say at worst, it’s a symbolic nod toward Jewish unity that won’t actually impact the lives of citizens day-today - and, at best, a 'defining moment' for Zionism.

Critics - including many international Jewish groups - say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing majority coalition are bolstering 'tribalism' or, even more severely - 'apartheid.'

But what does this mean for the near quarter of Israel’s population that isn’t Jewish?

Well, the controversial ‘Nation-State’ bill declared Jewish settlement a 'national value' and made the right to national self-determination in Israel 'unique to the Jewish people.'

Key contentious clauses were removed late in the game, including one that would, ‘authorize a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community.’ Basically - legal segregation based on religion or ethnicity.

Despite the ones that were removed, plenty of controversial sections also stayed put.

For example, the bill revokes the 70-year status Arabic had as an 'official' state language, downgrading it to a 'special status' and making Hebrew the state’s only official language.

We sat down with Aida Touma-Sliman, an Arab Israeli member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, for her take.

There’s been a lot of debate over the symbolism versus real world consequences of this law. What do you think? What kind of a concrete impact could it have on the population of Israel that’s not Jewish?

Let me know below. And thanks as always for tuning in to NowThis World.

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NowThis World is dedicated to bringing you topical explainers about the world around you. Each week we’ll be exploring current stories in international news, by examining the facts, providing historical context, and outlining the key players involved. We’ll also highlight powerful countries, ideologies, influential leaders, and ongoing global conflicts that are shaping the current landscape of the international community across the globe today.

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