Who is entitled to Israeli citizenship?

Despite its importance, the Israeli immigration law (formally Law of Return) is widely unknown. According to Jewish ideology, every Jew outside Zion is living in exile (diaspora). Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews patiently wait for God to intervene and bring the Jews back to Zion, while Zionists see the state of Israel as the ‘true’ Zion. Thus, their goal is to make the Diaspora Jews ‘return’ to Israel.

The Law of Return is the core of the Jewish state. But before having a closer look at it, I would like to make clear that there is a difference between Israel’s existence as a state and its existence as a Jewish state. An Israeli state would be a state that ‘belongs to’ its citizens. However, Israel is not a state for the Israelis, but for the Jews (wheather they live in Israel or not). Israel has a Basic law forbidding participation in the ‘democratic’ elections by candidates who want to transform the character of the state of Israel. It reads:

‘A candidates’ list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if its objects or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following:

(1) negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people;

(2) negation of the democratic character of the State;

(3) incitement to racism.’

Though the second and third paragraph can be discussed whether or not they are compatible with the principle of majority rule and free speech, the first pargraph proves that Israel isn’t a true democracy, since every Israeli (Jew or non-Jew) opposed to this undemocratic state character is prohibited from running for office. In other words, it is possible to be in favor of an Israeli state, a state for the Israeli people, and at the same time be opposed to the Jewish state.

Adopted in 1950, Law of Return declares that

‘1. Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh [someone who is entitled to immigrate].

2. (a) Aliyah [right to return] shall be by oleh’s visa.   (b) An oleh’s visa shall be granted to every Jew who has expressed his desire to settle in Israel, unless the Minister of Immigration is satisfied that the applicant

(1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or

(2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.’

Then, who is a Jew? The law defines a Jew as ‘a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.’ This is in accordance with Jewish religious law, by which a person is a Jew through his mother’s blood. Further, the amendment adds that this right  is ‘also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and has voluntarily changed his religion.’

Confused? Let me put it in plain language: If I, for instance through genealogical reasearch, would find out that my father’s maternal grandmother was a Jew, I would consequently have the right to ‘return’ to my ‘homeland’. Something similar actually occurred a few years ago when Swedish then-Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Per Gahrton visited Israel with a delegation from the European Parliament and met with their Israeli counterpart. Gahrton took the opportunity to ask if he by any chance would be entitled to immigrate to Israel since the mother of his maternal grandmother was a Jew in Amsterdam, Holland. He also mentioned that he himself show no traces of his Jewish origin (which, by the way, does not matter at all in this case). The straight answer surprised him: Yes, you are a Jew under Mosaic law, and have the right to immigrate to Israel. At the same time, a Palestinian who was driven away from his home in 1948 stand no chance of being able to return.

Something even more absurd (if that now is possible) occurred earlier this year. Fox News reported that ‘Israel has decided to adopt about 6,000 Indians who claim Jewish ancestry.'[1]  The Indians are believed to be descendants to one of the ten tribes of Israel that were spread over the world after the Assyrian invasion of the kingdom of Israel 722 B.C. After Israel has sent a team of rabbinical judges to formally convert the Indians to Orthodox Judaism, they will all be allowed to ‘return’ to Israel. This case is extreme, likely due to the demographic ‘problem’ with too many non-Jews in the area controlled by Israel. However, it’s a good example on the injustice and racism the Zionists are guilty of.

In July 2005, Haaretz informed that Knesset decided ‘to grant citizenship to Palestinians married to Israeli citizens only if the Palestinian men are 35 and older and if the women are 25 and older.'[2]  Worth mentioning is that a Swede who converts to Judaism is eligible for citizenship as soon as he is converted. If any other country regulated that Jews cannot become citizens under the same regulation as others, wouldn’t it described as anti-Semitism? It most likely would. Still, when it comes to Israel, people are surprisingly understanding about its racist laws and policies.

Following this, the Palestinian refugees were driven away from their homeland mainly because they are non-Jews. Because if they were Jews, they wouldn’t have been driven out of their land in the first place – no matter their standpoint towards Zionism. Anti-Zionist Jewish Palestinians in 1948 were allowed to stay and granted Israeli citizenship.

The Law of Return has rightly been accused of being racist and discriminatory. Despite this, its original purpose was partly to save Jewish refugees. I have met many Jewish immigrants to Israel. Very few of them are refugees. On the contrary, they have left the land they were born in voluntarily and migrated to Israel for religious and ideological reasons. The sad truth is that the Jewish state has created many, many times more refugees than it has saved.

Kristoffer Larsson

[1] Israel to Adopt ‘Lost Tribe’; Fox News; April 1, 2005; http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,152146,00.html

[2] MKs pass bill, pare down family reunification for Palestinians; Haaretz online; July 28, 2005; http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/604523.html(28/07/05)

The Israeli laws referred to can be found in English at

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Politics/Other_Law_Law_of_Return.html (Law of Return) and

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Politics/Basic_Law_Knesset.html (Basic Law: The Knesset)