“Israel was born as a Jewish state. And that was the decision of the Jewish people, to establish a Jewish state,” said Knesset member Mansour Abbas, head of the Israeli Islamist party Ra’am, in a statement that stunned listeners at a Dec. 21 conference hosted by the financial newspaper Globes. “That’s how the state was born, and so it will remain. The question is not about the state’s identity, but about the status of its Arab citizens.” Asked whether he was aware of the significance of his comments, Abbas responded, “We should be waging a struggle for the status of Arab society as a collective inside the State of Israel as it was born.”
While Abbas did not explicitly recognize Israel’s official legal definition as a “Jewish and democratic state,” contested for decades by leaders of the Arab-Israeli population, he did say Israel was established in 1948 as a Jewish state.