Sol Salbe: Critique of Israeli loyalty oath
Critique of Israeli loyalty oath in Australian Jewish News
Middle East News Service comments: The Australian Jewish News asked me to give my brief opinion on Israel's impending loyalty oath legislation. While I've not seen the paper as yet a friend read me the article over the phone. Hence the wording may not be 100 per cent exact. The brief message below was written in order to complement the criticism of the legislation that I expected the AJN to carry elsewhere. A longer version of this critique, scheduled for publication in the AJDS Newsletter, will be circulated later.]
Every country demands a swearing of allegiance as part of a naturalisation process. That includes allegiance is to the countries’ laws and, in Australia’s case, to democratic values. But those legislators who would be supporting the new Israeli loyalty oath would be unwilling to pledge allegiance to democratic values. Genuine equality for all citizens and communities, safeguarding minority rights, a strong role for the judiciary and freedom of speech are not for them. Their new move goes against the basic democratic concept that citizens are not meant to hold any particular viewpoints. It would be the equivalent of asking people to endorse Australia as a monarchy.
Israel’s Minister of Minority Affairs Avishai Braverman observed that the proposal “will send a negative message to Arab citizens.” And that message will be amplified by the context: the Knesset is about to debate close to 20 other anti-democratic bills. Avigdor Lieberman has explicitly stated that the naturalisation oath is only a first stage in a process.
This process is not only an endorsement of Lieberman’s “no citizenship without loyalty” election campaign. It is also an endorsement of the notorious Rabbi Meir Kahane’s ideas. Twenty five years ago the Knesset lined up against his racist views of disenfranchising Palestinian or (Arab) Israeli citizens. Now it has taken the first concrete step towards it.
Broad forces : Likudniks Benny Begin and Reuven Rivlin, moderates like Ruth Gavison, the Labour Party and the Left have assembled against this legislation. As Australians and as Jews we should line up alongside them.