All Israeli Jews have their IDs marked with the word "Jew". Prof. Uzi Ornan's says "Hebrew." Due to a loose bureaucracy back in 1948, Uzi Ornan succeeded in getting himself by nationality, as he interprets it, rather than religion. Makes sense. Prof Ornan is a Hebrew linguist and member of Israel's Academy for the Hebrew Language.
Following in the footsteps of author Yoram Kaniuk, Ornan wants to get the church out of the Israeli state. He wants his legal status to be defined in secular terms, not religious.
His petition was denied. Ironically, since Ornan was born in Jerusalem before the founding of the State of Israel, his right of abode in the State of Israel is granted to him only under Israel's Law of Return.
This should become part of Israel's Hasbara spiel: Israel does not discriminate against non-Jews! All indigenous peoples, Jewish or Palestinian are denied citizenship rights by virtue of having been born in Palestine!
The Haifa court ruled that Ornan is an Israeli citizen because his mother is Jewish, not because he was born in the country. So, even a Jew, who was born in Palestine can be a citizen only because he is as Jewish as an American Jew.
The Law of Return applies to Jews. A "Jew" is someone whose mother was Jewish. According to the Haifa court, the Israeli authorities must deny an individual's desire to declare his own identity. Otherwise, per the court, the non-religious, or non-identifying child of a Jewish mother in the U.S. would not be allowed to enter Israel under the Right of Return. This is much more than an issue of church and state. This is about the state imposing religious status on citizens.
This is a bizarre ruling. Seems to me that it is born of a fear that Israel will run out of Jews. In its endless battle to achieve demographic superiority, Israel needs every weapon it can use: including importing Jews from overseas. Any dilution of that reservoir is a matter of national security. So, the state must enact laws to preserve the Jewish character of the state even if the Hebrew object.