Los Angeles Times Misreports on Israel’s Nation State Law

In an online news story as well as in an editorial in recent days, The Los Angeles Times has misreported Israel’s new nation-state law.

The July 18 online news story by Noga Tarnopolsky (“Israeli parliament passes bill defining country as the nation-state of the Jewish people“) erred: “The Israeli parliament passed a controversial bill . . . granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities and downgrading Arabic from an official language to one with a ‘special status.'”

In fact, the clause which would have enabled Jewish-only communities (7b) was struck from the bill before the vote. The law that passed does not allow for “Jewish-only communities.”

While the inaccuracy about Jewish-only communities does not appear in The Los Angeles Times print version of the same article (“Israeli law sparks debate on status of Jews, Arabs,” July 20), it is repeated in the July 20 editorial (“Israel’s new ‘Jewish state’ law,” in print and online). The editorial erroneously refers to the law passed Thursday that “grants advantages to Jewish-only communities.”

The relevant clause about Jewish settlement which did pass (7), states: “The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.”

As Haaretz explains (“Israel’s Contentious Nation-state Law: Everything You Need to Know,” Jonathan Lis, July 19):

Could the law bar Arab Israelis from living in Jewish locales?

No. The version that would have permitted the establishment of Jewish-only communities was deleted from the final legislation. Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri said this week that the final version would not prevent Arabs from buying homes or living in communities planned for Jews, but he noted that the final bill does have a provision that would make it possible to provide incentives for constructing communities with a clearly Jewish character.

“It will not be possible to create a city and designate it as a ‘Jewish city,’” Nizri said, “but if public buildings are constructed, they will be for synagogues and not mosques. That doesn’t mean that an Israeli Arab will be barred from buying a home in the new city.”

Likewise, CNN accurately reported:

An earlier version of the bill would have allowed for segregated Jewish-only communities, but that clause sparked criticism from multiple directions. Some of Israel’s most prominent current and former politicians — including President Reuven Rivlin, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and the former chair of the prominent nonprofit the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, all expressed reservations about that clause, saying it would damage Israel’s international standing and would likely be struck down by the High Court.

An updated clause instead promotes “Jewish settlement as a national value” and commits the government to further its establishment.