AJC voices ‘concern’ on loyalty oath

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The American Jewish Committee called on Israel to exercise caution in enacting a measure that would require non-Jewish citizens to swear loyalty to Israel’s Jewish character.

"AJC expresses its concern about the Israeli Cabinet’s decision to approve a draft amendment to Israel’s citizenship law that calls for non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and a democratic state," a statement issued Wednesday by the group said.

"AJC wholeheartedly supports the principle that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and is proud of the fact that Israel is a genuine and vibrant democracy, indeed the only democracy in the Middle East," it said. "However, applying different standards, based on ethnicity, to applicants seeking the country’s citizenship may detract from the noble cause that the amendment purports to promote. AJC hopes that the Israeli Cabinet will carefully review all the ramifications of this amendment before it advances further."

U.S. Jewish groups generally have been silent about the bill, which has stirred controversy in Israel.

An Anti-Defamation League statement earlier this week did not oppose the measure, but urged that the oath be extended to all new citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.

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