The Counter-Revolutionary Nation-State Law

20 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020

See all articles by Abraham Bell

Abraham Bell

Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Law; University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: May 6, 2020


Anyone who reads Israel’s Basic Law: Israel – Nation-State of the Jewish People, 5778-2018 with sufficient background knowledge of Israeli law will have a difficult time understanding what all the fuss is about. The hyperbolic criticisms — that the law establishes an ethnocracy, demotes the status of Arab citizens or the Arabic language, sends exclusionary messages or demotes equality or democracy in Israeli law — cannot be squared with a law that consists of symbolic and declarative statements that are not legally enforceable and have long been in the Israeli consensus. The real story of the law is an institutional struggle between Knesset and judiciary over Israel’s constitution. The lack of substance of the law is deliberate, and designed to highlight the contradiction between the Supreme Court’s claim of exclusive control over constitutional principles and its claim of Basic Laws’ supremacy.

Keywords: Israel, Democracy, Constitutional Law, Nation-State Law, Judicial Activism

JEL Classification: Z18, K19, K49

Suggested Citation

Bell, Abraham, The Counter-Revolutionary Nation-State Law (May 6, 2020). Israel Affairs, Vol. 26, Forthcoming, Bar Ilan University Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 20-07, Available at SSRN: or

Abraham Bell (Contact Author)

Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Faculty of Law
Ramat Gan, 52900


University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

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