Commentary Magazine


The Need for a 'Jewish State'

To the Editor:

Lahav Harkov’s essay on Israel’s Jewish character is important and timely [“Making the Jewish State a ‘Jewish State,’” October 2013]. But why didn’t the author mention Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty? It states: “The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Ted Belman
Jerusalem, Israel

To the Editor:

For the sake of freedom everywhere, a “Jewish state” speaks loudest. Indeed, 5,773 years on the land, under the worst imaginable conditions, and more than 2,000 years surviving “the teaching of contempt” that resulted in the cold-blooded murder of millions of Jews in the Nazis death camps, cry out for justice. Such will be served when a “Jewish state” is enshrined in law.

Alvin Samuels
Metairie, Louisiana

Lahav Harkov writes:

While Ted Belman is correct that Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty mentions the phrase “Jewish and democratic,” it can hardly be considered a law defining Israel as a Jewish state. It expounds on the meaning of democracy and some of the rights that the system of government would guarantee, without mentioning Israel’s Jewishness beyond that one phrase. The proposals discussed in the article do the opposite: They define a Jewish state, while mentioning that those aspects go together with Israeli democracy. For Israel to be Jewish and democratic, it needs to legally declare what both of those concepts entail. Perhaps, as Alvin Samuels wrote, such a Jewish statehood law would bring a greater degree of justice to the Jewish people living in their homeland, as there are democracies all over the world, but only one State of Israel.




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