EXCLUSIVE: Alan Dershowitz says Israel ‘harder to defend’ after nation-state law
Harvard Law Professor and staunch Israel supporter Alan Dershowitz told i24NEWS on Wednesday that defending Israel has become harder after the passing of a controversial law defining it as a Jewish nation state, warning that the legislation would only exacerbate a widening rift with diaspora Jews.
The controversial "nation-state law", passed by a 62-55 margin in Israel's parliament last week, defines Israel as the national homeland for the Jewish people and states that "the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to Jewish people."
The law, which has near-constitutional power as part of the series of Basic Laws that inform and direct Israel’s legislative and judicial branches, has drawn a barrage of condemnation particularly regarding clauses which demote Arabic from an official language of the state to one with "special status", and another which encourages the promotion of “Jewish settlements”.
In an interview on i24NEWS' "The Spin Room" on Wednesday, Dershowitz called the nation-state law “unnecessarily provocative” and said that it “only gives ammunition to the opposition.”
Nevertheless, he said it was hypocritical of Palestinians and Muslim states to blast Israel for the law given their own Islamic theocracies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded Israel the world's "most fascist, racist state" and said that the “spirit of Hitler has found its resurgence” in the country's leadership, in a tirade that addressed the new law.
Passing the nation-state law was "a mistake," and not the way to connect with Diaspora Jews, Professor Emeritus @AlanDersh of Harvard University tells @AmiKaufman:— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 25, 2018
Watch the full segment HERE: https://t.co/voX5RZ2jau pic.twitter.com/QUQEioZ1Oo
Dershowitz said regarding the law that there was no need to enshrine with statutes what was already obvious -- that Israel is a Jewish state. He suggested that instead Israel should instead incorporate the “brilliant Declaration of Independence of Israel, which talks about equal rights for all,” as a basic law for the Jewish State that has operated without a traditional Constitution since its establishment in 1948.
However, the academic called for the abolishment of the chief rabbinate, saying “get the rabbis out of politics, get the rabbis out of marriage, get the rabbis out of the law.”
Israel’s chief rabbinate oversees marriage and issues related to Judaism, and Israel’s parlimanet is composed of various religious factions that prop up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.
He added that the Chief Rabbinate should “stop attacking” non-Orthodox or less strict sects of Judaism, asserting there should be equal prayer sections at the Western Wall.
Egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall has long been a subject of controversy and a flashpoint for disputes between the Ultra-Orthodox denominations of Judaism whose demands are at odds with the more liberal streams.
While Dershowitz said he would not join Trump’s team due to wishing to stay independent, he has met with the President and his special Middle East envoys Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner to discuss the peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The legal academic has also been consulted by US President Donald Trump regarding his administration's long-anticipated “deal of the century” that has failed to reach the light of the day in the wake of the administration’s vexed recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He explained that the Trump administration aimed “to put maximum pressure on the Palestinians to accept what would be a very good deal for them,” explaining the deal would provide a two-state solution, mandated by the 1947 UN resolution, but one that would required a demilitarized Palestinian state, leaving Gaza an open question.
“It has to be a demilitarized state. It has to be a state where Israel has some control over borders that are vulnerable to ISIS or enemy attack. In life compromises are necessary. But it will be a state, if there is a two-state solution, in which full sovereignty domestically will be accorded to the Palestinian people. How it deals with Gaza is yet another question,” Dershowitz stated.
“It would give them what they’ve always claimed they’ve wanted -- statehood -- but I think what they’ve really always wanted is for there not to be a nation-state for the Jewish people anywhere in the area,” he said sharply.
The legal scholar and outspoken commentator on Israel is due to release a new book on the Jewish State, following up to his 2003 New York Times bestseller entitled "The Case for Israel."
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