The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) is very disappointed at the one-sided and misleading report on the September 4 edition ABC TV’s “7.30”, covering Israel’s Nation State Law. While the law is controversial, and is opposed by many Israelis of all religions and political persuasions, the report by “7.30” included some false statements and lacked context.
In her introduction to the report, host Leigh Sales stated the law “defines the country as exclusively a Jewish state.” This is not true. While it does state that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, and that the “right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” this simply restates what is well known – that Israel is the state for the Jewish people, as set out in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and other Basic Laws, not to mention the original UN partition resolution. It does not mean Israel is now “exclusively” Jewish.
Sales also claimed, “The so-called nation-state law is the latest in a series of policies seeking to enshrine Jewish supremacy amidst a surge in ultra-nationalist sentiment.” The claim of “Jewish supremacy”, that Jews have more rights than other Israeli citizens, is simply incorrect – all Israeli citizens have equal rights. The claim about “ultra-nationalist sentiment” is also a skewed and inaccurate representation of the reality in Israel and an inappropriate attempt by the ABC to pass a subjective judgement on this and other recent Israeli laws.
Similarly, in his report, Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop claims the law “defines Israel as exclusively the nation state of the Jewish people,” and says, “Under a divisive new law, these two Israeli citizens are no longer equals. Because Mira Awad is an Arab, Israel is officially no longer her nation.” This is patently untrue. All citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity, have equal rights. There are other basic laws – Human Dignity and Liberty and Freedom of Occupation (meaning jobs) – which have equal standing and which guarantee the human rights and equality of all Israelis. Rubinsztein-Dunlop’s implication that this law supersedes all those other laws is simply incorrect.
Rubinsztein-Dunlop also states that the Nation State Law doesn’t contain the words “democracy” and “equality” in its definition of Israel, and while this is true, the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty states, “The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” and then applies its protections equally to all.
Rubinsztein-Dunlop states the law “puts Hebrew above Arabic as the only official language,” and while it is true that the law states, “The State’s language is Hebrew,” if Rubensztein-Dunlop wished to give the relevant context, he would have also noted that the law provides, “The Arabic language has a special status in the state; Regulating the use of Arabic in state institutions or by them will be set in law,” and that the clause making Hebrew the language of the state “does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”
It is also worth noting that all other Middle Eastern countries are specified in their constitutions or equivalent as Arabic or Islamic or both. In the Palestinian Authority, which demands that no Jews can live in any future Palestinian state, it’s both. In addition, many European and Asian countries have laws giving preferred status to the culture of the dominant ethnic group, religion or language, or defining the country by reference to them. Yet somehow it’s only when Israel, which the UN specifically established as a “Jewish state”, confirms that status that the ABC deems it worthy of a critical current affairs report.
AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein stated, “Yet again, we have the unfortunate situation where the ABC has failed to properly cover a complicated issue involving Israel. There have been both sins of commission, with false statements and mischaracterisations, and sins of omission, where context crucial to give viewers a full understanding of the issues was totally lacking. The Australian viewing public and taxpayers are entitled to expect far better from their ABC.”
AIJAC will be submitting a formal complaint.
For additional information, contact AIJAC on (03)-9681-6660.