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Why Israeli tech companies fear the Jewish Nation State bill

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Israeli politicians have been trying for years to pass a “Nation State” bill to prioritise the country’s Jewish characteristics over democratic principles. The controversial proposal described by its critics as an “apartheid bill” is momentous; second only to the declaration of national independence, as some have claimed. While Israel has always insisted that it is a Jewish state, this bill will give further legal weight to that claim and permit discrimination on the basis of race and religion.

One section of Israeli society, however, is more opposed than the rest of the population to the promotion of the country’s Jewishness at the expense of equality. They are the heads of Israel’s tech industries. If the bill makes it to the statute book, the likes of Intel and Motorola are unlikely to enjoy the benefits that triggered a “start-up revolution” lauded constantly by Israel and its supporters as a symbol of the country’s innovation and openness.

The bill will lie to rest a debate that’s been ongoing since the founding of the country; can Israel reconcile its ethno-religious identity with the principals of democracy. Critics say it can’t pointing to its many discriminatory laws; Jewish only swimming pools, not to mention the apartheid regime it has imposed in the occupied territories where there are Jewish only settlements, Jewish only roads and two distinct legal systems: military rule for non-Jews and civilian rule for Jews. Despite endorsing admission committees permitting Jewish communities to vet Israeli citizens on the basis of race and religion and block Arabs from taking residence in a Jewish neighbourhood, the country’s President, Reuven Rivlin, has come out in opposition to the bill.

Israel has gone to great lengths to guard its ethno-religious identity. The Jewish majority it hopes to maintain would not have........

© Middle East Monitor