Jewish or democratic? Israel debates its founding principles.

Source: The Washington Post

 A bill making its way through Israel’s parliament has sparked fierce debate over the foundations of democracy in the country and what it means to be Israeli, with critics saying it will deny equal rights to non-Jewish citizens.

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On Thursday, the Israeli government edged closer to approving the “nation-state bill” aimed at boosting Israel’s Jewish character. Proposed by members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and supported by much of his right-wing coalition, the bill clarifies in about a dozen points Israel’s purpose as “a national home for the Jewish people” and pinpoints its national symbols.

 It could be voted into law as soon as next week.

The thrust of the proposed legislation is similar to the Declaration of Independence signed by Israel’s founders in 1948, except that the historic document also underscored the democratic values of the state, giving the country’s Arab inhabitants “equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”

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