In an important outcome, PM Netanyahu was successful in having the Nation-State Law passed by the Knesset. This establishes in Israel’s Basic Laws that it is the Nation State of the Jewish people, and as such is required to take actions and have policies that are intended to ensure the survival and well-being of the Jewish people. Note that this transcends religion, although Judaism is an integral part of Jewish culture and being, nevertheless Israel is founded on the principle that the Jews are a “nation.” Some people like to say “a race” but this is not correct, because the Jews today are made up of many races, black, white, brown, all shades.
As evidence for this fundamental principle, that the Jews are a nation, one can readily note that when the Jews were in exile (galut) after being expelled from their historic homeland by the Roman Empire (2000 years ago), they nevertheless retained many aspects of a nation, i.e. a coherent and unique religion, a unique language (Hebrew), a continuous form of communal organization, specific ethnic practices (such as food), and a specific history as a distinct group even though dispersed throughout many lands (diaspora). The Jews were not unique in this respect, for example, the Armenians were also a nation devoid of a country for many years, after being expelled and massacred by the Turkish Empire. Also, the Kurds are clearly a nation, even though dispersed between other sovereign states (Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran).
As further evidence, one must note that although anti-Judaism existed early on in the history of the Church, it soon transformed into a racial hatred now known as anti-Semitism, a term that was introduced in Germany in the 19th century. Thus, the Inquisition, founded in 1478, was obsessed with hounding and murdering so-called “New Christians” (i.e Christians descended from Jews) in order to ensure the purity of Christian blood (limpieza de sangre).
This was very similar to the anti-Semitic racial laws promulgated by the Nazis, that were derived from laws and practices adopted throughout Europe during the medieval period. Note that the Nazis and their collaborators throughout Europe during WWII murdered Jews based on their “racial” characteristics and they were not concerned with their religious beliefs (many were descended from families that had converted to Christianity generations before) .
Another example, was that in the former Soviet Union Jews were classified as a nationality, although they were the only nationality in the former USSR without an endogenous homeland (that’s why Stalin sought to transfer Jews to the artificial homeland of Birobidjan on the remote Chinese border).
In the USA, for purposes of “affirmative action,” certain groups (tribes or nations) are designated officially to be “minorities,” including Blacks, Hispanics (Spanish-speakers), American Indians (indigenous peoples) and certain Pacific Islanders (from US possessions. such as Guam). Jews are not considered a “minority” in this respect, because they were not considered to need special treatment or help, they were too successful. But, this designation led to ridiculous anomalies, such as that very wealthy immigrants to the US from Spain or Africa, could receive government financial support as a “minority,” but poor Jewish immigrants, from for example the former USSR, could not!
In a recent case in the USA, a Jewish man who had converted to Christianity was refused a job as a coach by a Louisiana Baptist College because of his “Jewish blood.” He sued them on the grounds of racial discrimination and the Federal Judge found in his favor. The Judge specifically noted that in this case his religious views were not considered, only his national/racial origin as a Jew.
There are those who decry the passing of this Nation-State Bill into law. Among them are (1) Arabs, including Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs, who have called it racial discrimination and “an apartheid law.” However, this is nonsense, not only does the Bill itself recognise the rights of minorities in Israel (there are Arab Muslims, Christians of many denominations, Druse, Circassian, etc.), but also this Law in no way changes the other Basic Laws of Israel that include democracy and the rights of minorities. Also, note that most Muslim countries define themselves as Muslim and do not allow minority rights, and the PA has stated that any future Palestine State would exclude all Jews! (2) Western liberal Jews and their Israeli counterparts, who would like Israel to be defined as “the State of all its people.” It is precisely why this Law was necessary, to prevent the watering down of the unique Jewish nature of the State of Israel by such all-inclusive sentiments. (3) The Ultra-Orthodox who see this Law as a means to include in the definition of the State of Israel all those non-Orthodox streams (including Conservative and Reform Judaism) that they do not consider to be “Jewish.” It is precisely to ensure that the State of Israel is the state for all members of the Jewish nation that this Bill was necessary.