Israel Policy Forum expresses its grave consternation regarding the Jewish nation-state law just passed by the Knesset. We endorse Israel’s status as the homeland for the Jewish people and believe in the importance and legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. Israel’s Jewishness cannot be sacrificed; indeed, maintaining Israel as a Jewish state is an integral part of our organization’s vision.

The version of the legislation that passed, however, does more than enshrine Israel’s Jewish character in its Basic Laws. The clause on Jewish settlement may give rise to discrimination against Israel’s non-Jewish citizens and will certainly lead to charges of unequal treatment. So too will the clause downgrading the official status of the Arabic language. The clause on the Jewish Diaspora appears designed to conform to ultra-Orthodox dictates about who is a Jew, which undermines the law’s purported mission of defining Israel as the homeland of the entire Jewish people.

Israel’s Jewishness and its democracy must be kept in balance, and this law raises questions about whether that balance will be maintained. We urge Israeli lawmakers to be vigilant in ensuring that the nation-state law is used to celebrate Israel’s Jewish character rather than to discriminate against Israel’s non-Jewish minorities.