Benny Gantz, new party head, accused of left-wing positions, criticizes Nation-State law

“I will work to amend the Nation-State Law,” Benny Gantz, head of Israel Resilience, said Monday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

“I will work to amend the Nation-State Law,” former chief of staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, now head of a new political party, ‘Israel Resilience,’ said Monday morning while surrounded by activists, mostly from the minority Druze population, who marched to his home as part of a demonstration against the law.

Gantz said to the Druze activists, who come from a population known for serving in Israel’s military: “We have a blood pact, but more than that we have a pact of life… I will do everything in my power to correct this legislation, so that it expresses this connection, this deep connection that is impossible to break not only in battle, but also in life.”

It was the first time the Israel Resilience leader took a position on an issue since registering his new party on Dec. 27. Although a political neophyte, Gantz has been performing well in polls. The latest, a Jan. 8 poll conducted by Walla! News, gives his party 12 seats, tying for third overall.

Likud officials have attacked Gantz for not taking clear positions on the issues. They say Gantz wants to avoid the mistake of another former IDF chief of staff, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who announced his entry into politics in 1999 with great fanfare and enjoyed wide popularity, only to drop precipitously in the polls when he revealed strong left-wing tendencies, after which his popularity plummeted.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Gantz of holding left-wing positions. He did so without evidence. However, Netanyahu’s view may be borne out as Gantz’s position against the Nation-State Law is one held by Israel’s left.

The Nation-State Law was adopted as a Basic Law, or quasi-constitutional law, on July 19, 2018. The law, which sparked protests, is largely supported by those on the right of Israel’s political spectrum.

The law formally identifies Israel as a Jewish State and the Land of Israel as the Jewish people’s historic homeland. It also officially acknowledges symbols of the state, like the flag with its Star of David, the menorah, and Hatikvah, the national anthem. The law also codifies certain official holidays like the Sabbath, and calls for the promotion of Jewish immigration and Jewish settlement.

Opponents of the law declared it was racist and demanded it be annulled or amended, saying it impinges on the rights of minorities in Israel. Jewish organizations from outside Israel also criticized the law.

However, the Likud rejected these criticisms. In August, Netanyahu said, “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. Individual rights are anchored in many laws including Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Nobody has harmed – and nobody intends to harm – these individual rights.”