Admittedly, the title is a misnomer, but I’m using it to describe the new Nationality bill being considered in the Knesset. The Nationality bill is an attempt by Israel’s right wing parties to define Israel as a Jewish State. You might ask, why is this a problem since Israel is a Jewish state? Exactly. What? Let’s examine modern Israeli history.
The land of Israel was occupied by numerous powers for 2000 years. The longest running occupation was the Ottoman Empire (1516-1917). As part of the Treaty of Paris of 1856, concluding the Crimean War, England successfully pressured the Empire to allow Jews to immigrate to their former home land, thus opening the door for the Aliyah movements (immigration to Israel). Just prior to the end of World War I, the Zionist movement lobbied for the British to declare the then Land of Palestine to be a Jewish homeland. This culminated in the issuing of the Balfour Declaration – a letter from then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Zionist movement. The letter stated, in part, that the British government favored the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Treaty of Versailles, concluding World War I, granted Palestine to the British, thus making the Balfour Declaration effective and ushered in a much larger immigration of Jews to Israel.
Following World War II, the British transferred their mandate over Palestine to the newly formed United Nations. In November, 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into two states, a Jewish one and an Arab (Palestinian one). On May 14, 1948, Israel was officially established when she issued her Declaration of Independence. Here are some relevant parts of the Declaration’s text:
“Accordingly, we, members of the people's council, representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British mandate over Eretz-Israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations general assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”