Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People

Alon Harel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People declares that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. It also includes several symbolic and operative provisions which are designed to strengthen the Jewish character of the state. The Basic Law purports to legally define and entrench the particular rather than universal values of Israel - the values that distinguish Israel from other nations rather than those that are shared by other nations. It anchors the Jewish identity of the state in its formal constitutional structure. My aim in this article is to present the history of the constitutional evolution of Israel and then to describe the conservative reactions to the constitutional liberalization of Israel. Then, I turn to examine the Basic Law, its provisions, and the arguments of advocates and opponents. Last, I evaluate its impact on the Israeli legal system. I shall argue that the Basic Law is part of a systematic attack on democratic liberties in Israel that may eventually transform Israel from a liberal democracy to an authoritarian democracy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)262-269
Number of pages8
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Association for the Study of Nationalities.


  • citizenship
  • democracy
  • minority rights
  • national identity
  • nationalism


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