EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The newly passed “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” known as the Nationality Bill, does nothing to damage the equality of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. That is because it addresses the state’s national identity, not the civil rights of its citizens. Introducing the issue of civil liberties to the nationality law, where it does not belong, would effectively imply recognition of Israel as a binational state.
The main criticism levelled at Israel’s new nationality law (known officially as the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People) revolves around the law’s non-allusion to the issue of civil equality. Critics claim that this omission implies the inequality of Israel’s non-Jewish minorities, such as Arabs and Druze, before the law. But this claim is wholly misconceived, emanating as it does from a common failure to distinguish between nation and state (the UN, for example, is an interstate organization and not an international one, though it is generally described as international). Understanding the distinction between the concepts may help clarify why the matter of civil equality does not belong in a nationality law.