Israel Policy Forum released the following statement, signed by its chair, Susie Gelman, and Advisory Council chair, Charles Bronfman, regarding Israel’s nation-state bill draft:

Israel Policy Forum echoes the alarm expressed by Israel’s President Rivlin, Attorney General Mandelblit, and the Knesset’s legal advisor over the clause in Israel’s draft nation-state bill that would allow any community in the country to officially and openly discriminate on the basis of religion or nationality.

State-sanctioned discrimination on these grounds is ​unacceptable for ​any democracy,​ especially for a state founded as a safe haven for a people that have historically been a consistent target of pervasive discrimination. That such a clause is being advanced in a bill that establishes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is particularly jarring, as it will give cause to anti-Semites everywhere to tar Judaism with a supremacist brush and to Israel’s enemies to label it a racist state. This blatantly discriminatory clause runs contrary to the Zionist vision and to Israel’s founding principles enunciated in its Declaration of Independence, including: “it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”

Furthermore, if any Jewish nation-state bill is to be considered, it should also express support for democracy and protection of all Israeli citizens. The current draft of the bill does not negate Israel’s existing Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, which enshrines Israel as a democracy. However, the absence of any ​reference to Israel’s democratic character in the nation-state bill will undoubtedly raise questions about Israel’s continued balance as both ​a Jewish state and ​a ​democracy and will expose Israel to unwarranted criticism and opprobrium.

We join Israelis across the political spectrum who have condemned the bill in its current form, and we urge the government to drop the bill entirely, or, failing that, to at least amend it, excising any discriminatory elements while incorporating elements that reinforce Israel’s democratic character, without delay.