Israel's parliament has passed a law called The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, officially making Israel the only self-defined Jewish nation state in the world.
"A hundred and twenty-two years after [the founder of modern Zionism Theodore] Herzl made his vision known, with this law we determined the founding principle of our existence," Benjamin Netanyahu said of the law's passing. "Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all of its citizens."
The “nation state” law does a couple of things. First, it recognizes Israel as a soley a Jewish state and Hebrew as the official language. Another major provision is that it reiterates that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and, therefore, not Palestine.
Naturally, Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists are unbelievably distraught over the passing of this bill calling it “racist.”
Tamar Zandberg, of Palestine’s left-wing Meretz party, compared the then-proposal to apartheid, saying, “The nation state law was taken out of storage and apartheid pops out of the box.”
Israel's Arab minority are also up in arms:
"By defining sovereignty and democratic self-rule as belonging solely to the Jewish people - wherever they live around the world - Israel has made discrimination a constitutional value and has professed its commitment to favouring Jewish supremacy as the bedrock of institutions," said Hassan Jabareen, general director of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
Singling out Hebrew as the official language of Israel was highly controversial because for the longest time, Hebrew and Arabic have been seen as equals. However, the law gives Arabic “special status” and says its standing prior to the law's passing will not be harmed, reports the BBC.
Israel, unlike the United States, does not have a constitution. Instead, they pass a series of "Basic Laws" that act similar to a constitution. The “nation state” law is one of these.
Netanyahu, in his address to the Israeli parliament, Knesset, said “We enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, that respects the individual rights of all its citizens.”