Nick Benson

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Holy Land Catholic leaders ask Israel to repeal controversial law

The controversial Israeli Nation State law must be repealed because non-Jews also are citizens of Israel, said the Catholic ordinaries of the Holy Land.

“We, as the religious leaders of the Catholic Churches, call on the authorities to rescind this basic law and assure one and all that the state of Israel seeks to promote and protect the welfare and the safety of all its citizens,” they said in a statement in early November. The ordinaries include bishops, patriarchs and religious leaders of various rites who serve in the Holy Land.

All residents of Israel, regardless of their religion, must be treated as equal citizens, the Catholic leaders said.

The law, which was passed in July, establishes that “the right to exercise national determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” that Jewish settlement is a “national value,” mandating the state to “encourage and promote its establishment and development.” The law also establishes Hebrew as Israel’s only official language, downgrading Arabic to a “special status.”

The Catholic leaders noted that since the creation of Israel in 1948, Arab citizens have been struggling with manifestations of discrimination. The new law, they said, is a blow to the very democratic values protected and promoted by the Human Dignity and Liberty Basic Law passed by the Israeli Knesset in 1992.

Now one of Israel’s basic laws – something akin to a constitutional law which guides Israel’s legal system – it is more difficult to repeal than a regular law.

Picture: Jesuit Fr David Neuhaus lights a baptismal candle during a Mass for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel in 2014. (CNS photo/courtesy www.catholic.co.il).

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