A Comparative Constitutional Perspective on Israel's Nation-State Law

By Eugene Kontorovich - Published by Indiana University Press

The article examines the contention that the Basic Law of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People undermines Israel’s liberal character. A comparison of the controversial provisions in the Israeli bill to the constitu- tional provisions of other liberal democracies reveals that it fits comfortably with the widespread practice of constitutionally affirming the particularistic identity of the nation’s majority population. Such provisions tie commu- nal identity to that of the state through state religions, dynastic heads of state, or ethnic self-determination. Moreover, the specific national identity measures in Israel’s Nation-State Law—those dealing with language, immi- gration, and related matters—are common to the constitutions of various Western democracies in similar circumstances. While the provisions of Israel’s Nation-State Law are not exceptional, the international hostility they arouse undoubtedly is.