Why Israel As A Jewish State?
Aside from the plentiful rain and storms, the next biggest topic in the news is the proposed bill to define Israel as primarily a Jewish State.
Some opponents to this law have said that it adds nothing to the Declaration of Independence, which clearly defines Israel as both Jewish and democratic. And if it does change anything, it would brush up with racism, and provide grounds for inequality of non-Jewish citizens under the law.
I view Netanyahu as calculatedly wrong-footing everyone on this law.
Yes, it will mean, for example, that KKL can allocate land to Jews, as positive discrimination, and other similar applications.
However, that's not enough practical importance to justify the public furor and direct risk to Netanyahu's coalition.
Here's my take on what Netanyahu may be working on.
Netanyahu has raised the topic of Israel as a Jewish State, in a totally different arena.
In May 2011, like a rabbit out of the hat, Netanyahu produced a novel requirement that Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish State.
This goes beyond Israel's conventional requirement that Arabs recognise Israel as a legitimate State, entitled to live within secure borders. (Which the PLO has done, for example, on several occasions).
In his speech before the U.S. Congress last May (2011), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posed a serious challenge to the Palestinian Authority: If the PA would just say, "We recognize Israel as a Jewish state," this would be sufficient to end the conflict. Israel, said Netanyahu, would be the first to vote for Palestinian statehood in the United Nations. The response of PA Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad, in a recent interview with Haaretz, was that, "Israel's character is its own business. It is not up to the Palestinians to define it."
Dr Fayyad (and the Arab League, who stated likewise) has a reasonable point.
Why should the Palestinians and Arab countries recognise Israel's Jewishness, when the State of Israel itself hasn't legislated such a definition? First take the speck out your eye, Israel, before you take the needle out of our eye.
Perhaps Netanyahu's strategy is to pass the Jewish State law, as a means of then returning to the Arabs with his demand that they too recognise the Jewishness of Israel.
At that point, if the Arabs agree (and why shouldn't they?), according to Netanyahu's stated policy, Israel's recognition of the Palestinian State is a done deal.
It is ironic that Netanyau has created a right vs left split on the Jewish State Law.
The right-wing are lining up to push through the Jewish State Law, while the left-wing, center and Arab MK's are protesting and opposing it. Just the opposite constellation of the support-opposition to recognising a Palestinian State.
If this is indeed Netanyau's strategy, it's pretty cunning.