What is a Jewish State?
By Aharon Barak, former Supreme Court Justice
The values of the state of Israel as a Jewish state set it apart from the rest of the democratic nations. There are many democratic states in the world. But only the State of Israel is a democratic, Jewish nation. It is worth quoting the words of our declaration of independence:
“In the Land of Israel the Jewish people arose. Here its spiritual, religious and political character was forged, here it lived a life of national independence, here it created its national and universal cultural treasures and bequeathed to the entire world the eternal Book of Books.”
A “Jewish state” is, as it were, the state of the Jewish people. “It is the natural right of the Jewish people to live like every other nation as a free people in its own sovereign state. A state to which every Jew is entitled to ascend and in which the ingathering of the exiles is among the most basic values.”
A Jewish state is a state whose history is bound up with the history of the Jewish people, whose principal language is Hebrew, and whose main holidays reflect its national mission. A “Jewish state” is a state which counts the resettlement of the Jewish people in its fields, its cities and villages among its highest concerns. A “Jewish state” is a state that embodies the memory of the Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust, and whose purpose is to be a “solution to the problem of the Jewish people lacking a homeland and independence through the renewal of Jewish statehood in the Land of Israel.”
A “Jewish state” is a state that fosters Jewish culture, Jewish education, and love of the Jewish people. A “Jewish state” is a state whose values are the values of freedom, justice, righteousness and peace within the Jewish heritage. A “Jewish state” is a state whose values are drawn from its religious tradition, in which the Bible is the most basic of its books and the prophets of Israel are the foundation of its morality. A “Jewish state” is a state in which Hebrew jurisprudence fulfills an important role, and in which matters of marriage and divorce of Jews are determined according to the rules of the Torah. A “Jewish state” is a state in which the values of the Torah of Israel, the values of the Jewish tradition and the values of halakhah [Jewish law] are among the basic values.