JERUSALEM, Monday, November 05, 2018 (WAFA) – The Arabs in Israel are no less citizens of this county than the Jews, the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said last week on the new Israeli Nation State Law, passed by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on July 19.
“According to this law, the State of Israel has legislated that the people whose ‘welfare and safety’ it is most concerned to promote and protect are ed to the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel,” the ordinaries said in a statement. “We must draw the attention of the authorities to a simple fact: our faithful, the Christians, our fellow citizens, Muslim, Druze and Baha’i, all of us who are Arabs, are no less citizens of this country than our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
The statement said that the Arab minority in Israel has been struggling against all manifestations of discrimination since the creation of Israel in 1948 whenever the “Jewish” element outbalanced the “democratic” one. “This has meant on ongoing struggle and careful vigilance to protect the rights of all citizens, to guarantee as much as possible the values of equality, justice and democracy.”
The statement described the new Nation-State Basic Law as a blow to these values, adding that the law provides “a constitutional and legal basis for discrimination among Israel’s citizens, clearly laying out the principles according to which Jewish citizens are to be privileged over and above other citizens.”
The Catholic ordinaries, including Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Latins, and former Latin patriarchs Michel Sabbah and Fouad Twal, said that “by promulgating ‘the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation’, the law promotes an inherent discriminatory vision. In fact, other than seriously downgrading the standing of the Arab language in relationship to the Hebrew language, the law totally ignores the fact that there is another people, the Palestinian Arabs, and other major religious communities, Christians and Muslims as well as Druze and Baha’i, that are profoundly rooted in this land.”
They concluded: “This Basic Law contradicts the identifiable humanist and democratic strands in Israeli legislation as well as international laws and conventions to which Israel is signatory, having as their aim the promotion of human rights, the respect of diversity and the strengthening of justice, equality and peace. We, as the religious leaders of the Catholic Churches, call on the authorities to rescind this Basic Law and assure one and all that the State of Israel seeks to promote and protect the welfare and the safety of all its citizens.”