Israeli cabinet rejects loyalty oath proposal

The legislative committee of the Israeli cabinet on May 31 rejected a bill that would make a declaration of allegiance to a “Jewish, Zionist and democratic” Israel a prerequisite to the issuance of a national identity card. The measure was proposed last week by Knesset member David Rotem of the Israel Beytenu party, which was the only party to vote in favor of the bill. Israel Beytenu spokesman Tal Nahum criticized the vote and said that the party would continue to pursue this and similar measures. Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the New York Jewish Week last week that the proposal was discriminatory, aimed at only the Arab minority.

Israel Beytenu, the nationalist party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, recently proposed a series of controversial bills, including one that would criminalize anti-Israel statements and another that would criminalize “Nakba,” the practice of marking Israeli Independence Day as a day of mourning. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called the measures “draconian,” saying that they would diminish public discourse. Last week, the Knesset approved 47-34 the preliminary reading of a bill that would punish public statements likely to “cause an act of hatred, scorn or disloyalty to the state” with one year in prison. (Jurist, June 1)

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