Swearing Loyalty

October 12, 2010

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According to the amendment approved by the Israeli Government, a new immigrant to Israel must now swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. This move has been met with much criticism.

The most legitimate criticism would seem to be that although this amendment demands a commitment to Israel’s democracy, no Jewish immigrant will be required to take this oath.

When there is such a clear and obvious distinction between the expectations the State has of a Jew as opposed to a non-Jew, it would seem that the “democracy” to which these non-Jewish immigrants will be swearing is fundamentally flawed.

Other criticism is more pragmatic. According to the pragmatic critics, this oath will upset the world, it will upset relations with Israeli Arabs, it will upset the already rocky peace negotiations, and it will cause far more trouble than it will solve. These criticisms, while important, would seem to avoid the question of principle.

In principle, a loyalty oath for new immigrants to Israel shouldn’t be such a big problem, should it? Most countries in the world insist on a loyalty oath of some kind for new immigrants.

Should there be no loyalty oath for new immigrants?

Or if we can agree that in principle there should be a loyalty oath, taken by all would-be Israeli citizens, how should it be worded?

Some ministers have suggested adding the phrase “in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence”, which refers specifically to equality. Others have suggested demanding the acceptance of the “legitimacy” of Israel.

How would you word the ideal loyalty oath?

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