Liberman’s “loyalty law”: an effort to push Arabs out of the Knesset

Posted: January 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: racism, The Right | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Knesset’s ministerial legislative committee is about to vote today on Israel Beitenu’s (Avigdor Liberman’s party) “loyalty law”, which will change the oath all MK’s take at the beginning of each Knesset term, from swearing loyalty to “the State of Israel and its laws,” to swearing loyalty to the State of Israel as a “Jewish democratic state.”

UPDATE: The decision whether to back this bill was moved to the coalition managing body (in other words – it will be Netanyahu’s decision).

The important thing here is the change from the term “Israeli” to Jewish. The name “Israel”, points to an inclusive political model, which emphasizes the “Jewishness” of the state, but at the same time offers room for all the state citizens. Declaring loyalty just for “a Jewish state” will be another symbol for the new model the Israeli Right is trying to establish –one of ethnic superiority of the Jews over all other minorities.

An Arab cannot become – and is not expected to become – a Jew. When he pledges loyalty to Jews, he vows to be loyal to others, to a community he can never be part of. But an Arab can become an Israeli, and can certainly pledge loyalty to Israel – as all Arab MKs have been doing since the state was born. This is not just a cosmetic change. Liberman and his party expect the Arab MKs to reject the new law, what will open the way to banning all none-Jewish MKs from the Israeli parliament.

This move by Yisrael Beitenu – undoubtedly the most dangerous party in Israel right now – should be seen in the context of the current surge in anti-Arab legislation. This has nothing to do with security measures. It is an effort to change the nature of the state, making it, in the words of the Arab MK Ahmed Tibi, “a democracy for Jews and a Jewish state for all others”.


The Jewish-American paper Forward published an op-ed by me on the future of the Israeli left. It touches exactly this point, of Arab-Jewish relations.

One Comment on “Liberman’s “loyalty law”: an effort to push Arabs out of the Knesset”

  1. 1 Thomas said at 5:58 am on January 4th, 2010:

    I have so much trouble wrapping my head around the fact that Arabs can gain Israeli citizenship but Palestinians cannot. How is something so outrageous so normal in Israel?