Obama administration, ADL concerned about ‘Jewish state’ law

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration and a top U.S. Jewish group expressed reservations about Israel’s proposed “Jewish state” law.

“We would expect any final legislation to continue Israel’s commitment to democratic principles,” Jeff Rathke, a State Department spokesman, said Monday at the daily briefing for reporters.

In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League said the bill was “well-meaning but unnecessary” and said that “some have sought to use the political process to promote an extreme agenda which could be viewed as an attempt to subsume Israel’s democratic character in favor of its Jewish one.”

Critics say the bill could conceivably provide underpinning for legislation that would marginalize Israeli Arabs and other minorities.

The bill under consideration would define Israel constitutionally as a Jewish state.

It has stirred controversy in Israel and could split apart Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition should it reach the Knesset as early as next week.

The Cabinet approved it on Sunday 14-6.