Turkey & Israel Engage In War Of Words Over “Jewish Nation-State Law” – What’s The Big Deal?

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Jul 25 2018
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After the world was entertained with antics displayed by Trump-Kim and Trump-Rouhani, the war of words has shifted to new players. This time, two powerful nations – Turkey and Israel – have started the lethal war in the Middle East. Zionist, Hitler, racist, fascist and dictator were some of the words used between leaders from both countries.


The new war of words erupted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised a controversial law – “Jewish Nation-State Bill” – adopted by Israel’s parliament last week. The new law legally enshrines Israel’s Jewish character, makes Hebrew the only official language and says only Jewish people have a right to national self-determination in Israel.


Erdogan calls Israel the “most Zionist, racist and fascist country” as well as branding it a “terror state”. The Turkish leader also provoked Israel by saying the “spirit of Hitler” has re-emerged in Israel. Adolf Hitler’s brutal regime – Nazi – was, of course, responsible for the infamous Holocaust, in which 6-million Jews were systematically murdered from 1941 to 1945.

Turkey President Erdogan vs Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu

The Turkish president, whose oppression and suppression of his own people is a public knowledge, said – “There is no difference between Hitler’s obsession with the Aryan race and Israel’s understanding that these ancient lands are meant only for Jews. The spirit of Hitler, which led the world to a great catastrophe, has found its resurgence among some of Israel’s leaders.


In retaliation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mocked Erdogan, accusing him of slaughtering Syrians and Kurds, suggesting that the Turkish leader was no better than Hitler. Netanyahu said – “Erdogan is massacring the Syrians and the Kurds and is jailing thousands of his own people. This great democrat’s criticism of the Nation State Law is the greatest compliment it could be paid.”


Netanyahu said – “Turkey under Erdogan is becoming a dark dictatorship, while Israel is meticulously maintaining equal rights for all its citizens, before and after the [national] law.” Truthfully, Erdogan has jailed many of his critics and has 50,000 people detained awaiting trial. He has also imprisoned more than 160 journalists, making him the world’s biggest jailer of journalists.

Jewish Nation-State Bill - Jews With Israel Flag

Obviously, Israel was taking advantage of the spectacular support from U.S. President Donald Trump to bulldoze whatever wishes they wanted to fulfil. For more than 20 years, successive U.S. presidents have signed a waiver every 6 months that allows them to delay a move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on national security grounds.


No U.S. president had dared to do what Trump has done. During his campaign, Trump vowed to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move considered an official recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. It would take 69 years after Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital, that the U.S. formally opened its embassy in the city.


In May, 2018, it was a done deal. Refused to be intimidated by the Muslim world, Trump went ahead and moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel-Aviv. And there was nothing the Arab world can do. Via satellite, U.S. President Donald Trump told 800 applauding audience that the move was “a long time coming,” and that Israel, like all sovereign nations, has a right to name its own capital.

US Embassy in Jerusalem Israel - Ivanka Trump

Palestinians have threatened to go to the International Criminal Court and the UN to protest against the new legislation. But really, what’s the big deal about the “Jewish Nation-State Bill”? The law endorses the Hebrew calendar as the official holiday schedule of the State of Israel and it establishes Independence Day, Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day as holidays.


The most controversial may be the Hebrew language, which for the first time was made into Israel’s sole official language, a status it has shared with Arabic up til now. Critics said that in the new law, Arabic has been “demoted.” Really? Why can’t it be that the Arabic language status has remained unchanged while the Hebrew language is given a promotion? What difference does that make?


The difference is the law has clarified that the Arabic language will not only be granted “special status,” but also that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.” In actual fact, this is no different than, say Malaysia, where the Malay language is the official or national language of the country while other languages can be freely used.

1948 Arab-Israel War - Raising Israel Flag

And what’s wrong with the new law declaring that Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people”, or that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel? In reality, since its founding in 1948, Israel has already declared itself a Jewish nation-state. The new law is merely symbolic and has no practical consequences. Critics aren’t happy because Israel bravely defines itself as a Jewish state.


Again, like the issue of deciding its own capital, why must Israel be so special that it has no right in declaring its own official language? The only vague area about the new law is its declaration about Jewish settlement being a priority. Without stating clearly about the location of such settlement, it may be subject to different interpretation and therefore, misunderstanding.


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