Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jewish & Democratic or Democratic & Jewish?

At the end of the tortuous bureaucratic nightmare of acquiring Israeli citizenship, I signed a declaration swearing loyalty to the State of Israel.

These days, things are getting a little more complicated. A recent cabinet decision means that anyone gaining citizenship will now have to declare loyalty to the Jewish and Democratic State of Israel. While I'm not Jewish, I'd have no issue in signing the declaration . This is after all the homeland of the Jewish people, and I don't feel it hurts me in any way to acknowledge that.

However, if an Arab Israeli citizen marries a foreigner - say from Jordan or wherever - their new partner would have to declare loyalty to the "Jewish and Democratic". Given the sorry history of the past 100 years, that may be a bit hard to swallow. Since the Arab population makes up around 20% of the total, "80% Jewish and 100% Democratic" might be a better formulation. Although I'm not entirely sure about the 100% Democratic either...

So why now? Why has our beloved government chosen this particular moment to introduce a change that seems solely designed to irritate 20% of the country? Maybe it was a sop to the Yisrael Beitenu party so they'll wave through a mooted 2 month extension to the building freeze? We'll just have to wait and see.