Tisha B’Av and the Nation-State Law

Services in Blaustein Hall of Beit Shmuel in Jerusalem

Immediately after this Shabbat we observe Tisha B’Av.  Commentators often suggest that this tragedy befell the Jewish people because of sinat chinam,  baseless hatred or hatred for no reason.

At too many times during Jewish history, Jews have committed acts of sinam chinam by demeaning members of other Jewish groups who live out their Jewishness differently than they do.  This unuseful human instinct, feeling that our group or belief system is superior to others, can lead to discrimination, fear and hatred.  Demagogues often play to this instinct to rally their followers.

The Nation-State basic law passed by the Knesset this week comes dangerously close to declaring Jewish superiority.  We are grateful to those who lobbied the members of the Knesset, and are relieved by some of the amendments to the original drafts of the law; but we remain concerned that the bill gives special rights to Jews that are not guaranteed to all citizens of the State of Israel.

Sinat Chinam motivated much of this unfortunate law.  But we assert: all residents of Israel deserve full right– as citizens, refugees or immigrants.  That is the promise of Israel’s Declaration Independence.   And that is the hope of Progressive Jews all around the globe – that the Jewish people overcome the practice of sinat chinam.  


About the author:

Rabbi Daniel Freelander is the President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ).


From our regions and affiliates:



  • Communique, Paris, 18 July 2018
    « The French Liberal Jewish Movement (MJLF) and  Arzenou France lend their support to all those in Israel (particularly within Israel’s movement for progressive Judaism) who call for revision of the Nation-State law whose provisions as currently drafted offend the basic tenets of Israel’s Declaration of Independence 1948, including complete equality of social and political rights for all its citizens.
    Building the nation, which is still work in progress, must today defend religious pluralism and the rights of minorities, and reject any legal segregation between its citizens of diverse origins. The State of Israel must remain both Jewish and democratic.
    We support any legislation regarding the character of the nation which respects the democratic ideal of the State of Israel and the fundamental principles concerning its citizens’ rights, to accompany and remain faithful to Israel’s remarkable achievements over the past 70 years In economic development, science and the arts.”
    Gad Weil,
    President, MJLF, Paris
    Robert Ley
    President, Arzenou France
    Communique, Paris, 18 juillet 2018
    « Le Mouvement Juif Libéral de France (MJLF) et Arzenou France apportent leur soutien à tous ceux qui en Israël (notamment au sein du judaïsme libéral israélien) appellent à modifier les termes du projet de loi sur l’Etat nation dont les dispositions actuelles heurtent les grandes principes de la Déclaration d’indépendance de 1948 parmi lesquels compte l’égalité complète des droits sociaux et politiques de tous ses citoyens.
    La construction de la nation en constante progression, se doit aujourd’hui de défendre le pluralisme religieux et les droits des minorités, et de refuser toute ségrégation juridique entre ses citoyens de diverses origines.  L’Etat d’Israel doit rester juif et démocratique. 
    Nous soutenons toute législation sur le caractère de la nation qui sera à la hauteur de l’idéal démocratique de l’Etat d’Israël et des principes fondamentaux des droits de ses citoyens, pour accompagner et demeurer fidèle à son formidable rayonnement économique, scientifique et artistique depuis 70 ans. »
    Gad Weil,
    President, MJLF, Paris
    Robert Ley
    President, Arzenou France

United Kingdom:

  • British Progressive movements responded with this statement: “Progressive Jews Unite Against Israel’s Basic Law Bill” (July 17, 2018)

North America:

  • Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), issued this statement on July 18, 2018