Israel Update


What It Means To Be A Citizen Of Israel 


Commentary by Sarah Ann Haves 


“I declare that I will be a loyal citizen of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” These are the words that candidates for Israeli citizenship will have to declare if the Israeli cabinet approves an amendment, on Sunday, October 10, 2010, to the current Citizenship Law. The words “as a Jewish and democratic state” are an addition to the traditional pledge.

New citizens that are eligible for the army will have to promise to defend the country. All would-be citizens will have to agree to perform any civilian service asked of them.

Some Israeli analysts believe that the bill is pointed at Israeli Arabs. But, considering that a majority of Palestinians want their future state to encompass all of Israel and the territories, the bill is also pointed at them. Any Palestinians that are allowed to live in Israel under a final peace agreement will have to pledge their allegiance to the state of Israel if the amendment is approved.

In a recent cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the State of Israel is “a Jewish state but it is also a democratic state. It is the national state of the Jewish People in the sense that every Jew can come here, from anywhere in the world, and make his home. The Jews have a state of their own,” proclaimed Netanyahu.

Netanyahu also commented that non-Jews live in Israel, and they deserve full equal rights in the Israeli democracy of this Jewish state. “It is a democratic state, in the spirit of our Declaration of Independence. I was born with this understanding about the country. I have written about this. I have defended it in every position I have held over the years. This is deeply ingrained in my soul both as Prime Minister and as a citizen of this country. Therefore, what we are doing expresses the nature and character of the State of Israel. This is what we expect of others and of ourselves. The expectation is also valid for those who seek to join our country – and this is both proper and natural, I would say that anything else would be unnatural and there is a great struggle today to annul and blur Israel's identity as the national state of the Jewish People and say that it does not belong to the Jewish people in a national sense.” 

The fact that Netanyahu has had to repeat these words, over and over again, both in peace talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and in meetings with diplomats, indicates a serious deterioration in Israel’s diplomatic relations with the international community. After 62 years of modern statehood, Israel is still defending its right to the Promised Land.

What has not been addressed, publicly, by the Israeli government, is whether new citizens will be obliged to learn and sing Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. No changes have been addressed, but it is obvious that the anthem is meant, specifically, for Jews returning to Israel from the Diaspora. The national anthem does not address another people group becoming citizens of Israel.

Here are the poetic words of Hatikvah:

“As long as deep in the heart,
The soul of a Jew yearns,
And, forward to the East, to Zion, an eye looks
Our hope will not be lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Zion represents not only God’s beloved city, Jerusalem, but also represents the entire land of Israel to many Jewish people. Palestinians, and most Israeli Arabs, however, believe the land of Israel belongs to them and they do not acknowledge Israel’s biblical claims to the city of Jerusalem and to Zion.

Some Israeli rabbis think that it is from the earth of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that Adam was created. It was here that Isaac could have been sacrificed by Abraham on Mt. Moriah had the God of Israel not intervened. This is where the Lord chose His Holy Temple to be built according to students of the Old and New Testaments.

Jerusalem is the epicenter that draws Jews and Christians from all over the world to come and worship God, which is a fulfillment of the biblical scriptures.

Zechariah 8:20-22: “Thus says the Lord of Hosts:  ‘Peoples shall yet come; inhabitants of many cities; the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of Hosts. I, myself will go also,” Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.” 

For the Jewish people, Jerusalem is not just a capital city. Jerusalem represents the steady existence of a land and people since biblical times. It is a city that encompasses the collective dreams and hopes of the Jewish people. Jerusalem will continue to draw Jewish people back to their homeland to inherit the land that the God of Israel has promised them. 

The threat of Jerusalem being divided in a final peace agreement with the Palestinians represents a concern not only for Israelis but for Jews living in the nations who look towards Jerusalem as their holy city.

Declaring that Jerusalem must remain the undivided eternal capital of the Jewish State is important for pro-Israel supporters who are fighting against those seeking to de-legitimize the state of Israel.

Returning to Jerusalem is declared every year by Jews living in the Diaspora who celebrate Passover. Jewish people look at each other after the Passover Seder and say, in Hebrew: “Next year in Jerusalem”.

This brings to the forefront the identity of Israel represented by Jews throughout the world. These words go to the depths of the very heart and soul of a Jew. 

Therefore, while the state of Israel attempts to amend the Citizenship Law, it should also consider how it wants to deal with the national anthem, especially in regard to new citizens who are not Jewish. Hatikvah, more than the Citizenship Law, represents the heart of the Jewish people – not only today, but also when the modern state of Israel was established in 1948. It is this Jewish national identity with God’s land of promise -- the Jewish homeland -- that is being contested by the world today. 

Psalm 137:6: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For, there, those who carried us away captive asked of us a song. And, those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth – If I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. 


Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.

(c) 2010 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision. 

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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