“Basic Law: Israel as Nation State — National Honor Defies Human Dignity and Universal Human Rights”

Basic Law: Israel as Nation-State was not crafted to pronounce any arrangement or instate any procedure. This article claims that the basic law was constructed to elevate the discourse of national Jewish honor and the legislative and executive branches that champion it, while downgrading human dignity and rights, the basic law that constitutes them, and the judiciary that enforces them. Israel, and the Zionist movement that created it, have always vacillated between a devotion to human dignity – the absolute value accorded to every human being as such – and a commitment to the idea of honor, the honor of the Jewish nation in particular. The pursuit of national honor dictates an attribution of a hierarchy of values to different people and national groups; it goes hand in hand with internal, group “loyalty” at the expense of the humane treatment of “others”. It encourages admiration of a “strong leader” who symbolizes the collective. This article claims that the enactment of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty was understood as giving precedence to dignity over national honor, and to the judiciary over other branches of government. In contrast, the enactment of Basic Law: Israel as Nation-State was designed to enhance the honor of the Jewish nation, to make it “great again”. The article claims that in order to understand the new basic law in context, it must be read together with the fierce attempts of Israel’s right-wing legislature and government to expel illegal immigrants, including asylum seekers, to confiscate Palestinian land and to weaken the judicial system.