The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy


Arab Citizenship

Filed under: Islam & ArabIsrael's Nationals — eidelberg @ 5:20 am

I. Introduction:“Bibi or Tibi”

This essay poses the dilemma of Arab-Islamic citizenship in a supposed-to-be-Jewish State. This dilemma was implied in the Likud Party’s 1996 campaign slogan “Bibi or Tibi.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Bibi,” i.e., Benjamin Netanyahu, and “Tibi,” i.e., Ahmed Tibi, are both citizens of Israel, the former a Jew, the latter an Arab. That Tibi, a citizen of Israel, could be an adviser to Yasir Arafat, the head of a criminal organization still classified as such under Israeli law, is a pathological phenomenon. Such a thing can only occur in a country suffering from political schizophrenia, a country lacking a strong sense of national identity.[1] Stated more simply: the choice between “Bibi” and “Tibi” was actually a choice between a Jewish State and an Arab-Islamic state.

That Israel should have been faced with a choice between “Bibi” and “Tibi” suggests that Israel has become a bi-national state. Indeed, that portentous slogan betrays the fact that Israel is being Arabized, and not only because the birthrate of Israel’s Arab citizens is more than twice that of Jews. Israel is being Arabized because of a long-standing lack of nerve on the part of Israel’s political elites, in consequence of which an increasing number of Arab citizens vote and hold office in what is supposed to be a Jewish State. This life-and-death issue has never been addressed by any Israeli government. The issue of Arab citizenship in Israel is of world-historical significance. To face this will require uncommon courage and wisdom.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dr. Tibi boasted before the 1996 national elections that Arabs would make Israel’s next Prime Minister. They almost did. 95% of Israel’s Arab citizens voted for Shimon Peres, who lost to Mr. Netanyahu by less than 30,000 votes (of three million cast). In fact, however, the Arabs had already made two Israeli prime ministers: Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, and his successor, Peres in 1995. Both owed their premiership to the two Arab parties in the Knesset.

The danger posed by the Arab vote was always obvious to all but fools. Now even the benighted may be enlightened: witness the slogan “Bibi or Tibi.”

Twenty years ago, when the Labor Party was not dependent on the Arab vote, Israel’s then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin felt obliged to warn:

“The majority of the people living in a Jewish State must be Jewish. We must prevent a situation of an insufficient Jewish majority and we dare not have a Jewish minority. …There is room for a non-Jewish minority on condition that it accept the destiny of the State vis-à-vis the Jewish people, culture, tradition, and belief. The minority is entitled to equal rights as individuals with respect to their distinct religion and culture, but not more than that.” [Speech to Israeli high school seniors in Tel Aviv, May 6, 1976]

Mr. Rabin obviously had in mind Israel’s Arab minority. But like all Israeli prime ministers, Rabin lacked the wisdom and courage to confront this lethal problem.

The problem is embedded in the 1948 Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of Israel which prescribes “complete equality of … political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of religion …” Israel’s Supreme Court has sanctified this egalitarian and culturally neutral aspect of the Proclamation as the “credo” of the State, even though this indiscriminate egalitarianism and cultural neutrality contradict the only justification for Israel’s re-establishment—its raison d’être—as a Jewish State.

Israel’s leaders are trapped in a basic principle of Contemporary Democracy, the principle of “one adult/one vote.” In the absence of rational and ethical constraints, this principle can actually unhinge and undermine a country by enfranchising all its inhabitants regardless of their political loyalties and religious convictions. Yet the principle appears so rational and so moral that no one dares question it. Fortified by this principle, members of any ethnic group can vote and hold office in a state even if the group is intrinsically hostility to the state which confers this boon of citizenship.

Reason and courage and even the instinct of self-preservation have deserted Israel, whose leaders have endowed Arab inhabitants with the right to vote on the one hand, while exempting them from military service for security reasons on the other. These Arabs were conquered in war and have no love for their conquerors—surely a normal attitude. Only smug and puerile Jews were shocked during the intifada when these Arab citizens screamed “Itbach el Yahud“—“Slaughter the Jews.” So deeply ingrained is their hatred of Jews that these same Arabs cheered Saddam Hussein even though he threatened to incinerate Israel, themselves included. Who but the deaf and the blind do not know that Israel’s Arab citizens, who enjoy all the rights of Jews, do not accept, in Rabin’s words, “the destiny of the State vis-à-vis the Jewish people”—and why should they? Israel is becoming Palestine, which is why its Arab citizens identify themselves as “Palestinians.”

And yet, as I shall now show from the perspective of citizenship, Israel has been “Palestine” ever since its government enacted the Nationality Law of April 1, 1952.

II. Palestine Citizenship

Palestine citizenship was established by the League of Nations on July 24, 1922, when the administration of Palestine, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, was entrusted to Great Britain as the Mandatory Power. The Mandate affirmed the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which favored the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

Under Article 4 of the Mandate, an appropriate Jewish agency was to be “recognized as a public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may effect the establishment of the Jewish national home …” The Administration of Palestine was instructed, under Article 6, to “facilitate Jewish immigration …” Article 7 required the Administration of Palestine to enact a nationality law. The law was to include “provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.”[2]

In pursuance of Article 7, the Palestine Citizenship Order was issued in 1925, and this order, as amended from time to time, regulated Palestine citizenship for the remaining twenty-three years of the Mandate. Subject to the right to opt for Turkish and other nationalities, all Turkish subjects—Jew and non-Jews—habitually resident in the territory of Palestine became, on August 1, 1925, Palestine citizens. Other Turkish nationals born within Palestine could also acquire Palestine citizenship even though they had not been previously resident in Palestine.[3]

Palestine citizenship could also be acquired by birth. Any person born to a father who was a Palestine citizen himself acquired Palestine citizenship whether or not the birth took place in Palestine. Moreover, any person born within Palestine who did not by his birth acquire the nationality of any other Sate was deemed to be a Palestine citizen. Finally, Palestine citizenship could be acquired by any person by means of naturalization, the main precondition being a period of residence in Palestine.[4]

These methods of obtaining Palestine citizenship differ in no essential way from the methods by which any person, Jewish or non-Jewish, can obtain citizenship under Israel’s 1952 Nationality Law (sections 3-5). Thus:

  1. “Any person who, immediately before the establishment of the State, was a Palestine citizen, shall become an Israel national”;
  2. “A person born whilst his father or mother is an Israel national shall be an Israel national from birth”;
  3. “A person born after the establishment of the State in a place that was Israel territory on the day of his birth and who never possessed any nationality during the period between his 18th and 21st birthdays and has been an inhabitant of Israel for five consecutive years immediately preceding the day of the filing of his application”;
  4. “A person of full age … may obtain Israel nationality by naturalization if … he has been in Israel for three years out of five years preceding the day of the submission of his application.”[5]

The reversion of Israel to Palestine via the concept of citizenship is not affected by the Law of Return. Enacted by the Knesset in 1950, the Law of Return, by which “Every Jew has the right to immigrate to this country,” has been deemed an immigration law, not a nationality law. “There is no need to argue at length,” said Supreme Court Justice Landau, “in order to show that the Law of Return does not deal with nationality at all but with the right to immigrate to and settle in Israel.”[6]

Of course the Law of Return was decisive for the development of a Jewish majority in this country. But under section 2c2 of the nationality Law, Jews exercising the right to immigrate to Israel may opt not to become Israeli citizens. On the other hand, and as we shall see later, political and legal commentators have failed to discern that the rationale of the Law of Return, as opposed to the language of the law itself, not only contradicts the culturally neutral principle of political equality prescribed in the Proclamation of the State, but also the Nationality Law which, in terms of the citizenship issue, is responsible for Israel’s reversion to Palestine.

Without recognizing this reversion, M.D. Gouldman raises the fascinating question: “What had been the fate of Palestine citizenship immediately following the establishment of the State? Had it vanished with the Mandate, leaving former Palestine citizens (Jews and non-Jews) stateless unless they happened to be possessed of some foreign nationality? Section 11 of [Israel’s] Law and Administration Ordinance, 1948 provided that the law existing in Palestine on 14th May 1948 should remain in force … subject to such modifications as might result. From the establishment of the State and its authorities.’ Did, therefore, former Palestine citizens—or at last those that remained in Israel—automatically become citizens of the new State of Israel even though no nationality law had yet been enacted?”[7]

“The latter view,” according to Gouldman, “has the advantages of continuity and the prevention of statelessness.” This was the position taken by Justice Zeltner in a 1951 decision of the Tel Aviv District Court, A.B. v. M.B., reversing a previous decision of the same court, that a former Palestine citizen who was, in the absence of an Israel nationality law, stateless:[8]

It seems to me … that the point of views according to which there are no Israel nationals is not compatible with public international law. The prevailing view is that, in the case of transfer of a portion of territory of a State to another State, every inhabitant of the ceding State becomes automatically a national of the receiving State…. So long as no law has been enacted providing otherwise, my view is that every individual who, on the date of the establishment of the State of Israel, is also a national of Israel. Any other view must lead to the absurd result of a State without nationals—a phenomenon the existence of which has not yet been observed.[9]

Obviously this decision is favorable to indiscriminate application of the principle of one adult/one vote, which principle, as previously indicated, does not take cognizance of a citizen’s consent or loyalty to the State. Surely Justice Zeltner was aware of the fact that the Arabs of Palestine never consented to the establishment of the State of Israel. Indeed, they violently opposed the Balfour Declaration and never consented to The League of Nation’s designation of Great Britain as the Mandatory Power.

We have here a bizarre phenomenon. Government by the consent of the governed is a basic democratic principle. So too is the principle of one adult/one vote. The Arabs of Israel enjoy the latter, not the former. From an abstract or formalistic viewpoint, one might argue that by voting in a national election, a person tacitly consents to the existence of the State of which he is a citizen. This view trivializes the concept of citizenship or of nationality, as well as the religious convictions and hostility of the Arabs in question.

Justice Zeltner’s position—which reflects a vacuous cosmopolitanism—was rejected by Justice Kennet in Oseri v. Oseri, a 1953 decision of the Tel Aviv District, a decision rendered after the enactment of the Nationality Law:

“Citizenship is the grant of a personal status to the citizen and it creates a bond of loyalty between the State and the national. The loyalty which had been created by the [Palestine Citizenship Order] was towards the Mandatory Power, which has now disappeared, and it is difficult to reach a deduction that the very law which established a bond of loyalty between the Mandatory Power and its inhabitants can create a new nationality and a new bond of loyalty between the State of Israel and its inhabitants. Such a bond cannot automatically devolve.”[10]

Accordingly, Palestine citizenship did not metamorphose into Israeli nationality with the termination of the Palestine Mandate and the creation of the State of Israel. The parties to the action, former Palestine citizens, were therefore held to be stateless during the period between the establishment of the State and the entry into force of the Nationality Law.

But if loyalty, as Justice Kennet emphasizes, is an essential ingredient of citizenship, the Nationality Law did not, in his words, “create a new nationality and a new bond of loyalty between the State of Israel and its inhabitants [especially Arabs].”

The Nationality Law itself acknowledges loyalty as an essential element of citizenship and nationality. Part I, section 5c states that prior to the grant of citizenship by naturalization, the applicant must make the following declaration: “I declare that I will be a loyal national of the State of Israel.” Moreover, Part II, section lla3 stipulates that the citizenship of any Israel national may be revoked if he “has committed an act involving disloyalty to the State.” To my knowledge this provision has never been enforced against any Arab citizen of Israel (even though many have engaged in terrorist attacks against Jews). Admittedly (unlike such attacks) the phrase “act involving disloyalty” is judicially vague. But this does not refute our reversion to Palestine thesis.

By reverting in principle to Palestine citizenship under the Mandate, the authors of the Nationality Law ignored the pogroms Arabs committed against Jews during the Mandate period. Did these Jewish law-makers believe that the new State of Israel could pacify its Arab inhabitants and make them renounce their loyalty to the “Arab Nation” or Islam? Did these self-effacing Jews think they could make these proud members of a proud Arab-Islamic civilization loyal citizens of a despised and hated Jewish State? Did these Jews think that they could buy the loyalty of Arabs by raising their standard of living in a new and prosperous Jewish country?

The 25-year period of the Mandate mocks such wishful thinking. The progress of Jews during that period immensely improved the economic standards, health, and longevity of Palestine’s Arab citizens. Not only did their per capita income greatly exceed that of any Arab country, but the rate of natural increase of Arabs in western Palestine was the highest in the Arab world. The rapid growth of Arab wages and population in Palestine was particularly striking in those areas of Jewish settlement and development. This was acknowledged by the British Peel Commission report of 1937. And yet, the report noted that, “Although the Arabs have benefited from the development of the country owing to Jewish immigration, this has had no conciliatory effect. On the contrary. Improvement in the economic situation in Palestine has meant the deterioration of the political situation.”[11]

Why, then, did the authors of the Nationality Law ignore this painful experience and confer political equality, hence citizenship, on Israel’s prolific Arab inhabitants? No doubt they felt publicly committed to the equality provision of the Proclamation of the State. But there is more.

Despite its indiscriminate egalitarianism, Israel’s Supreme Court has admitted that the Proclamation (like America’s Declaration of Independence) carries no constitutional authority and cannot served as a foundation for any actual legal right.[12] The Proclamation itself calls for an “Elected Constituent Assembly” which was to be convened not later than October 1, 1948 to adopt a Constitution. Such an assembly was indeed elected and it subsequently appointed an eight-member Constitutional Committee consisting of various party spokesmen, a majority of whom were left-wing secularists. A draft constitution was submitted to the committee by Dr. Leo Kohn. The draft prescribed equal political rights for Arabs, with the exception of one warmly debated provision that the President of the Jewish State must be a Jew.[13]

Mapai (now Labor) spokesman Meir Grabowsky objected to this provision on the ground that it would embarrass Jews in the Diaspora. The inclusion of an (allegedly) “racist” idea in Israel’s Constitution would give other nations an argument they might use in the event Israel should seek to uphold the rights of Jews residing among them.

Zorah Wahrhaftig, representing Mizrachi and Ha-Poel Mizrachi, two religious parties, dismissed Grabowsky’s fears as unjustified. He noted that the proposed constitution would in other respects favor Jews, such as their unrestricted right of immigration and almost instantaneous citizenship. Why then should a Jewish State hesitate to make clear that its “first citizen” is a Jew? Nevertheless, because he felt that further debate on this matter would cause embarrassment, Wahrhaftig agreed that the provision in question should be deleted.

Meir Loewenstein, representing Agudat Yisrael, another religious party, regarded such an attitude as cowardice. He wanted a specific constitutional requirement that the President be a Jew. He urged his colleagues not to worry about the “racist” slur, saying: “Because of our race we were hounded and because of our race we are alive.”

The provision was deleted, surely because of fear of anti-Semitism, as Loewenstein indicated. This fear, I believe, very much explains why the authors of the Proclamation of the State and of the Nationality Law granted equal political rights to Israel’s Arab inhabitants. Underlying this fear, however, was the secular orientation or diminished Jewish pride on the part of the founders of the State. The reversion of Israel to Palestine must be understood in these terms.

National pride, rooted in a people’s sense of a venerable past, of shared triumphs and transcended tragedies, of cherished beliefs and values, of timeless and noble aspirations—this is the core of national consciousness and of the dignity that should attach to citizenship. Israel’s Nationality Law makes a mockery of nationality and citizenship, as well as of Islam and Judaism, by endowing Arabs with equal political rights in a supposed-to-be Jewish State. Israel’s reversion to Palestine is the price Jews are paying for this lack of national pride and purpose, indeed, of practical wisdom and courage.

Contrast Jordan. Under the Jordanian Nationality law of February 4, 1954, a person became a Jordanian national if, “not being Jewish, he possessed Palestine nationality before May 14, 1948 and at the date of publication of this law was ordinarily resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”[14] This is less a manifestation of racism than of national pride and prudence. Making Muslims citizens of a Jewish State is even more foolish than making Jews citizens of any Muslim state, considering only the disparity in their respective birthrates. Just as only Jews are qualified to make the laws of a Jewish State––think of the knowledge and reverence required to preserve the Jewish tradition, its religious precepts and practices, its methods of education, the memory of its great teachers and leaders––so only Muslims are qualified to make the laws of any Muslim state.

This does not preclude the granting of personal, economic, civil, and religious rights to non-Jewish residents of Israel. To the contrary, the Torah requires this of any Jewish government regarding foreign residents, provided the latter duly accept the sovereignty of the Jewish State and abide by its general laws. This is precisely what is implied, oddly enough, in Rabin’s statement: “There is room for a non-Jewish minority on the condition that it accept the destiny of the State vis-à-vis the Jewish people, culture, tradition, and belief. The minority is entitled to equal rights as individuals with respect to their distinct religion and culture, but not more than that.”

Since the State of Israel conferred citizenship and equal political rights on its Arab inhabitants, the State can also revoke Arab citizenship along with those rights should it be necessary to preserve “the State vis-à-vis the Jewish people, culture, tradition, and belief.” The government of Israel has not done this. Indeed, Arab citizens, 95% of whom voted for Peres in the May 1996 elections, almost made him their prime minister. Hence the slogan “Bibi or Tibi” was more than a slogan: it signified the paramount issue of those elections. But, this means that Israel has become a bi-national state with the demographic likelihood of eventually becoming an Arab-Islamic state thanks to the Nationality Law and its reversion, in principle, to Palestine citizenship.

III. What is to be Done?

Necessary, first, is a clear understanding of Judaism in relation to nationality, citizenship, and statehood.

Because the Jews became a nation through and for the sake of the Torah, and because Israel’s existence has no justification apart from the Torah, a non-Jewish resident of Israel—a ger toshav in Jewish law—may not be a citizen, vote, hold office, or shape the laws of a Jewish state.

It needs to be emphasized that for the observant Jew the Torah is the divine source of truth and the paradigm of how man should live.[15] This is why a non-Jewish resident of Israel may not participate in the government of the State. “A hybrid community [such as the bi-national state of Israel] proclaims by its very existence that it does not consider truth to be of supreme importance.”[16] Granting Arabs citizenship in the State of Israel is a tacit denial of transcendent truth!

Actually, the concept of citizenship is foreign to Torah Judaism, as is the idea of the sovereign state. Since the state, in modern thought, is solely the product of human will, so too are the laws of the state governing citizenship. Besides, a defined area of land is essential to a state’s existence, hence to its laws governing citizenship. As seen in the Torah, however, the people of Israel existed before they possessed a land and a state. No one has expressed this more clearly than Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:

“The Jewish people and the Torah are different from any other people and any other set of laws. They are the only people in history to have laws before it had a land … Every other nation first became a people because it had a land, and then fashioned laws in order to keep its land. But you became a people by virtue of the Torah, and only when you received it were you given land for its sake.”[17]

The Torah says nothing about “citizenship.” There is, however, the concept of the “ger,” a proselyte or convert to Judaism. Because Judaism is a unique philosophy and system of behavior, any person, regardless of race or ethnicity, can become a Jew by learning the Torah and living according to its precepts. (Some of Israel’s greatest sages were proselytes.) Proselytizing, however, is forbidden by Jewish law, i.e. the Halacha. In fact, Jewish law requires the government of Israel to treat non-Jewish residents who abide by the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality with the greatest courtesy and, if necessary, to provide for their poor, their sick, and their elderly. Only by voluntary halachic conversion can such residents be part of the Jewish people and participate in the law-making functions of the State.

What also distinguishes Judaism is that any Jew who has converted to another religion will remain with all the obligations of a Jew until the end of time.[18] In contrast, citizenship is a right or privilege which can be renounced or revoked.

Also, in opposition to the idea of the sovereign state, Judaism posits the sovereignty of the people, of course under God. This Jewish concept of sovereignty underlies the American Declaration of Independence as well as the American Constitution (notwithstanding the influence of such modern political philosophers as Locke and Montesquieu). Ironically, modern Israel is based on the British and European or non-Jewish conception of sovereignty, which fixes sovereignty in the State.

The State is an abstract and culturally neutral entity. Because it is based on human will and not on truth, the sovereign state can confer citizenship on diverse ethnic groups animated by the most antagonistic beliefs and values. Hence it can transform a nation into a multicultural monstrosity. Here we touch upon the difference between Contemporary (or random) Democracy and Classical (or rational) Democracy.

Judging from the prevailing ideas and behavior of Western democratic societies, Contemporary Democracy is little more than a random aggregation of individuals and groups pursuing their own aims and interests. The result is ethnic pluralism and moral relativism. Lacking in Contemporary Democracy are not only unifying norms of human conduct, but any rational basis for national loyalty. Citizenship in such democracies has no ethnic and no ethical significance. It does not issue in national pride and civic virtue.

In contrast, Classical Democracy, exemplified in the founding of the American Republic, is based on the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality. The latter is the source of the Higher Law doctrine of the American Declaration of Independence, there termed the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” A democracy so founded can inspire citizens of diverse ethnic origin with national pride, provided that the laws and education of that democracy imbue citizens with a vivid awareness that what they have in common is more important than their differences.

Even more germane to Israel and our inquiry is the historical fact that the Athenian and therefore original understanding of “democracy” differs radically from contemporary democratic thought. Democracy originally meant not the rule of the “people” viewed as a random aggregation of individuals, but the rule of an ethnically distinct people, a people united not only by language, but by endagomous patterns of marriage and by shared beliefs and values rooted in a common past. Therein is the most solid basis of national loyalty, of civic virtue, hence of genuine citizenship. (This conception of a people is analogous to the Torah’s distinction between an Am and a Goy.[19] The latter is a corporate entity whose members are not united by a distinctive way of life.)

Jews and Arabs do not even share the same language, let alone the same ethnic character. How infinitely trivial, by comparison, are the cultural differences between French- and English-speaking Canadians. Yet the former fervently seek to separate from the latter. Contrast, too, the 15-year civil war between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims of Lebanon. Add the ethnic strife between the Kurds and Arabs of Iraq, both of the Islamic faith, both citizens of that country.

Anyone with a stitch of intellectual integrity will see that Arab citizenship in the supposed-to-be Jewish State of Israel is irrational as well as suicidal.[20] It remains to address this issue.

Contrary to what was said above by Justice Landau, the 1950 Law of Return is not simply an “immigration” law. In truth the Law of Return is Israel’s only nationality law, and it is fundamentally opposed to the Nationality Law of 1952! Let me explain.

In introducing the Law of Return in the Knesset in 1950, then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared:

“This Law does not provide for the State to bestow the right to settle in Israel upon the Jew living abroad; it affirms that this right is inherent in him from the very fact of his being a Jew; the State does not grant the right of return to the Jews of the Diaspora. This right preceded the State; this right built the State; its source is to be found in the historic and never-broken connection between the Jewish people and their homeland.”[21]

Since only Jews have an inherent right to settle in Israel—a right that transcends the State—the logic of this right prohibits the Knesset from passing any law or acting on any principle (such as that of political equality) that could demographically deprive Jews of that right. Yet this is exactly what happened in 1952 when the Knesset passed the Nationality Law. While affirming that only Jews have an inherent right to Israeli citizenship, the nationality Law contradicts the logic of that right by making it possible for non-Jews to obtain citizenship, hence to vote, hold office, and shape the laws of the supposed-to-be Jewish State. Israel was thereby made a state for Jews and non-Jews alike—the case of any Contemporary Democracy. The Nationality Law thus provides the ground for denationalizing Judaism or for deJudaizing Israel.[22]

Here it should be noted that in American law (hence from a secular point of view): “A man’s nationality is a continuing legal relationship between the sovereign State on the one hand and the citizen on the other…. This legal relationship involves rights and corresponding duties upon both—on the part of the citizen no less than on the part of the State.”[23] Specifically, and as Hans Kelsen writes in his Principles of International Law, “The most prominent amongst those duties that can be imposed only upon citizens is the duty to do military service.”[24] As Gouldman points out, however: “In Israel, the duty of defense (both regular and reserve) is imposed not only on nationals but also on any person whose ‘place of permanent residence is within the territory to which the law of the State of Israel applies.’”[25] Nevertheless, and as Gouldman and almost all other commentators fail to mention, let alone criticize, is the policy of Israel’s government to exempt Arab citizens from the duty of national service, be it military or civilian. Neither Israel’s government nor these commentators want to address the reason for this exemption and the appropriate consequences or policy that should follow therefrom.

We have seen that Israeli Arabs are exempt from military service for security reasons, which clearly indicates that they are not loyal citizens of Israel. But given their disloyalty—which they do not conceal—reason and justice call for the revocation of their citizenship. This brings us back to Part II, section 11a3 of the Nationality Law which requires the revocation of any Israel national who “has committed an act of disloyalty to the State.” To remedy what American jurisprudence would term the “void for vagueness” of this clause, it should be amended to read as follows:

“The citizenship of any Israel national shall be revoked if he or she (1) engages in acts intended to impair Israel’s security or welfare, such as serving in a terrorist organization whose aim is the destroy human life or property in Israel; (2) aids or abets any terrorist who has committed, or plans to commit, any act of violence against the State of Israel, its citizens or residents; (3) advocates, or supports any individual, group, or nation that advocates, violence against the State of Israel; (4) participates in acts intended to impair Israel’s relations with other nations; (5) publishes or distributes anti-Israel or anti-Jewish propaganda; (6) publicly espouses any political or religious creed that incites violence against Jews; (7) publicly identifies himself or herself as a ‘Palestinian’ as opposed to an ‘Israeli.’”

IV. Conclusion

To superimpose on Jews and Arabs the democratic principle of one adult/one vote is irrational, unjust, and despotic, for this principle endows Arabs, who abhor democracy as well as Jews, with the power to terminate—by legal and democratic means—Israel’s existence as a supposedly Jewish and democratic State. The indiscriminate application of this democratic principle is not only at war with another democratic principle, namely freedom; it is also a betrayal of Judaism and a formula for national suicide.

Although the proposed amendments to the Nationality Law will not of themselves overcome the Arab demographic problem—for which purpose I have elsewhere proposed, inter alia, a Jewish Constitution—discussion of such amendments, however delicate, is necessary and urgent.[26] Nor should this subject be obscured in Israel by preoccupation with the territorial-security issue. Indeed, the latter is the direct consequence of ignoring the former.

That Israel’s present government may not have courage and wisdom enough to address Rabin’s warning of May 6, 1976 should not preclude efforts of Jews to place its implications on the public agenda. Short-sighted pragmatism has been the bane of Israel and is largely responsible for Israel’s reversion to Palestine. Needed is bold and long-range thinking consistent with Torah principles and directed toward the only goal Jews can pursue with honor, the goal of a truly Jewish State. It is to be hoped that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will dedicate himself and his government to this noble goal.

* * * * * * *

[1] Labor Party leaders, fearful of offending Arab voters on whom they so much depend for their offices and perquisites, pander to the PLO whose influence on these Arab voters is considerable. But the silence of the Likud and the religious parties vis-à-vis Tibi’s obvious disloyalty is a reflection on their character.
[2] See M.D. Gouldman, Israel Nationality Law (Jerusalem: Alfa Press, 1970), p. 13 (italics added). Although this book was published in 1970, no subsequent change in the laws of Israel affect the validity of my thesis regarding the reversion of Israel to Palestine in terms of the crucial concept of citizenship.
It should also be noted the provision in question was violated by the British White Paper of 1939 which terminated Jewish immigration to Palestine, rendering it virtually impossible for Jews to escape the Nazi Holocaust.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid., pp. 134-136.
[6] Cited in ibid., p. 55.
[7] Ibid., p. 15.
[8] It should be noted that under Part II, section 10 of the Nationality Law, a person can become stateless by renouncing his Israeli nationality. By so doing he would still enjoy his personal, economic, social, and religious rights, but not his political rights.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid., p. 16 (italics added).
[11] See Aaron Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (London: W.H. Allen, 1970), p. 229. And so it was after 1967 when Israel gained control of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Thanks to Israel’s economic and technological assistance, not only did Arab income in these areas multiply four-fold, but the government established new hospitals, health centers, primary and secondary schools and universities. Predictably (except to paraMarxists and naïve capitalists), these schools and universities became hotbeds of insurrection. A word from Shimon Peres: “We live in a world where markets are more important than countries [hence more important than political and religious ideologies].” Pennsylvania Gazette, November 1994, p. 17.
[12] This was the stated position of the Court in the 1962 case of Peretz v. Kfar Sharmyahu Local Council.
[13] In the following three paragraphs, I am indebted to Emanuel Rackman, Israel’s Emerging Constitution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), p. 71.
[14] Gouldman, p. 69.
[15] See Paul Eidelberg, Judaic Man: Toward a Reconstruction of Western Civilization (Middletown, NJ: Caslon Co., 1996), ch. 10, summarizing the research of Dr. Moshe Katz, CompuTorah: On Hidden Codes in the Torah (Jerusalem: privately published, 1996), and Doron Wtztum, The Additional Dimension (Jerusalem: privately published, 1989, in Hebrew).
[16] See Eliyahu Meir Klugman, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1996), p. 137.
[17] Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on the Torah, Deut. 4:5.
[18] Consider the famous “Brother Daniel” case. In 1942, during the German occupation of Poland, Rufeisen, born to Jewish parents in that country, converted to Christianity (probably to save his life). In 1945 he joined the Carmelite Order of monks. In 1958 he came to Israel and applied for an immigrant’s certificate under the Law of Return. The application was denied by the Minister of Interior. The decision of the latter was upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court, contrary to Jewish law, but conforming to the Court’s conception of citizenship. See Gouldman’s discussion, pp. 23-26.
[19] See Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on the Torah, Exod. 5:7.
[20] Yitzhak Rabin saw this in 1976, when Labor was in power, as it had been since the founding of the State. In 1977, however, the Likud gained control of the government, joined by the religious parties which abandoned their 29-year alignment with Labor. Thereafter Labor would be increasingly dependent on the Arab vote, hence on Arab citizenship. This dependency eventually produced a profound change in the political tactics and even mentality of Rabin and his Labor colleagues and goes a long way to explaining their appeasement of the PLO on the one hand, and the surfacing of their scornful statements about Judaism and religious Jews on the other.
[21] Quoted in Gouldman, pp. 19-20 (italics added).
[22] The Supreme Court’s liberal interpretation of the Nationality Law has facilitated the process of deJudaizing Israel. See Gouldman, p. 72.
[23] Cited in ibid., p. 9.
[24] Cited in ibid., p. 117.
[25] Ibid., pp. 117-118.
[26] See Paul Eidelberg, “Toward a Jewish Constitutional Democracy in Israel,” International Journal of Statesmanship (Beverly Hills, CA: Foundation for Constitutional Democracy in the Middle East), Vol. I, Spring 1996.