Rainy Day Constitutionalism: Israel’s Nationality Law for an Anxious Majority

I describe a constitutional strategy intended to prevent the majoritarian implications of demographic change – ‘rainy day constitutionalism.’ In nation states that identify civic membership with shared ethno-national ties, the notion that demographic trends can leave the dominant group in a minority can be a source of existential anxiety, and hence of defensive constitutional action. Israel’s recent Nationality Law is an example. The Law entrenches values and arrangements which seem to stand no risk of violation by any political majority in Israel. To the extent that it has legally operative meaning, its best explanation is therefore as a safeguard for a foreboding future in which Jews are no longer the majority in Israel. Against the growing calls in Israel to annex the West Bank, possibly along with its millions of Palestinian residents, this future may not be unrealistic. Such constitutional preparedness raises complex normative questions, for both the present and the future.