Roughly 80 years after Nazi Germany enacted what became known as the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935, Israeli lawmakers in July codified a new Jewish supremacy law, which effectively mirrors the Nazi-era legislation of ethnoreligious stratification of German citizenry.
Rights exclusive to Jewish citizens
Dubbed the “nation state” law, its first clause stipulates that “actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” In other words, the 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, the native inhabitants who managed to remain in their homes when European Jews conquered Palestine in 1948, shall be without sovereignty or agency, forever living at the mercy of Israeli Jews.
One of the early anti-Semitic laws in Germany, the first of the Nuremberg Laws, was the Reich Citizenship Law, which likewise deemed citizenship privilege exclusive to people of “German or kindred blood.” Since there was no scientifically sound way to distinguish Jewish Germans from the rest of German society, as they were racially white Europeans and ethnically German, lawmakers looked to genealogy for Jewish grandparents. That will not be necessary for Indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel because, since its creation in 1948, Israel put protocols in place to ensure that non-Jews do not assimilate into mainstream Jewish society.
This brings us to the second Nuremberg Law: “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor,” which sought to prevent mixing of Aryan blood, dubbed “race defilement.”
In Israel, anti-miscegenation laws are already in place, masquerading as traditional values where marriage can only be performed by religious officials. The Orthodox rabbinate has exclusive purview over Jewish marriages, where Jewishness is a narrowly defined bloodline and interreligious marriage is strictly forbidden.
Exclusivity of Jewish symbols
The Reich Flag Law, part of the Nuremberg Laws, established that black, red and white were the national colors, and the swastika flag was the new national flag. The second clause of Israel’s nation-state law regarding national symbols indicates that “the flag of the state is white, two blue stripes near the edges, and a blue Star of David in the center.” Two days after it was passed, Israeli police and military soldiers arrested a Palestinian boy for holding a Palestinian flag outside Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The third clause of the nation-state law reiterates Israel’s illegitimate claim to the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, an illegal and internationally unrecognized claim that has been emboldened by Donald Trump’s move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Interestingly, however, this new law does not define state borders and Israel remains the only country in the world without declared borders. This is not surprising, as Israel is a still-expanding settler-colonial state, even though their admission to the United Nations in 1948 was based on their claim to only the 1948 armistice line, which does not include Jerusalem or any other part of the West Bank.
This new law also marks the beginning of the erasure of Arabic from the land, as it decrees Hebrew to be the only official language of the state, while Arabic has “special status.” The fourth clause further explains that use of “the Arab language [sic]” institutionally “will be regulated by law.”
Colonizing the whole of Palestine, ghettoizing and robbing Palestinians
As for the 4.5 million Indigenous Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank who do not have Israeli citizenship, the nation-state law alludes to their fate in the seventh clause, which states: “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”
Simply stated, Israel will continue to work in earnest to build Jewish-only colonies on seized Palestinian land, ostensibly where a Palestinian state was to be formed as per the Oslo Accords.
We can expect that more settlements will simply accelerate Israel’s ongoing displacement of Palestinians to replace them with imported Jews. We know from the past 51 years of settlement construction that this process is accomplished by systematic dispossession, marginalization, ghettoization and robbing of Indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. This process more closely resembles the Manifest Destiny removal and marginalization of First Nations in North America.
Western media should stop mincing words by calling the nation-state law “controversial” when in fact it is encoding the worst human impulses into law, the likes of which were found in Nazi Germany, Jim Crow America, the Indian Removal Act and other abominable moments in human history.
Abulhawa is a Palestinian author. Her latest book is “The Blue Between Sky and Water.”