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The Law of Return
Law of Return
(Hebrew: חֹוק הַשְׁבוּת‬, ḥok ha-shvūt) is an Israeli law, passed on 5 July 1950, which gives Jews the right to come and live in Israel
Israel
and to gain Israeli citizenship.[1] In 1970, the right of entry and settlement was extended to people with one Jewish grandparent and a person who is married to a Jew, whether or not he or she is considered Jewish under Orthodox interpretations of Halakha.[2]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Jewish Ancestry Amendment

2 Controversy

2.1 Followers of Messianic Judaism 2.2 Claims of discrimination in relation to Palestinian refugees 2.3 Same-sex relationships

3 Support for the Law of Return 4 Debate in Israel 5 Applicability of the law 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

History

Holocaust
Holocaust
survivors arriving in Haifa in 1945, before the passage of the Law of Return

Moroccan Jewish immigrants arriving in Israel
Israel
under the Law of Return, 1954

North American immigrants arriving in Israel
Israel
under the auspices of Nefesh B'Nefesh

The Law of Return
Law of Return
was enacted by the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, on July 5, 1950.[3] The law declares the right of Jews
Jews
to come to Israel: "Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh." Follow-up legislation on immigration matters was contained in the Nationality Law of 1952. The Law of Return
Law of Return
was modified in 1970 to extend the right of return to people who do not have Jewish status under Orthodox interpretations of Halacha, but who have a Jewish grandparent, and their spouses. The law since 1970 applies to those born Jews
Jews
(having a Jewish mother or maternal grandmother), those with Jewish ancestry (having a Jewish father or grandfather) and converts to Judaism (Orthodox, Reform, or Conservative denominations—not secular—though Reform and Conservative conversions must take place outside the state, similar to civil marriages). In the Law of Return, the State of Israel
Israel
put into practice the Zionist
Zionist
movement's "credo" which called for the establishment of Israel
Israel
as a Jewish state. Those who immigrate to Israel
Israel
under the Law of Return
Law of Return
are immediately entitled to gain citizenship in Israel. However, differences of opinion have arisen as to whether a person who claims citizenship under the Law of Return
Law of Return
should be automatically registered as "Jewish" for census purposes. According to the halakhic definition, a person is Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish, or if he or she converts to Judaism. Orthodox Jews
Jews
do not recognize conversions performed by Reform or Conservative Judaism. However, the Law provides that any Jew regardless of affiliation may migrate to Israel
Israel
and claim citizenship. Originally, the Law of Return
Law of Return
was restricted to Jews
Jews
only. A 1970 amendment, however, stated that, "The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law... are 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." A Jew can be excluded from Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return if he or she is considered to be dangerous to the welfare of the State of Israel. Jews
Jews
who have a past that involves a serious crime, such as murder, or who are fugitives in another country for any felony (unless they are persecution victims) can be denied citizenship. This clause has been used to exclude applicants a handful of times since Israel's establishment. Notable cases include Robert Soblen, an American Communist who spied for the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and fled to Israel
Israel
in an attempt to escape a life sentence, Meyer Lansky, an American mobster who was initially granted entry to Israel
Israel
but was expelled two years later, and Victor Vancier, an American Kahanist activist convicted of involvement in a series of bombings. Jewish Ancestry Amendment The 1970 amendment was induced by the debate on "Who is a Jew?" Until then the law did not refer to the question. There are several explanations for the decision to be so inclusive. One is that as the Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
did not use a halakhic definition in its definition of "Who is a Jew", the Law of Return
Law of Return
definition for citizenship eligibility is not halakhic, either. Furthermore, the clause in Amendment number 2, 4a, states,

The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law, 5712-1952***, as well as the rights of an oleh under any other enactment, are 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/her religion.[4]

Therefore, a Jew who has voluntarily changed his/her religion is not considered a Jew, and is not eligible to immigrate under the law of return, but would have been persecuted as a Jew under the Nuremberg laws, and is still a Jew according to Halakha. Another explanation is the 1968 wave of immigration from Poland, following an antisemitic campaign by the government. These immigrants were very assimilated and had many non-Jewish family members.[5] The Israeli Rabbinate is a purely Orthodox body that is far more strict in defining 'who is a Jew'. This creates a situation in which thousands of immigrants who are eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return's criteria, are ineligible for Jewish marriage by the Israeli Rabbinate.[6] A second explanation is that in order to increase immigration levels so as to offset the "demographic threat" posed by the growth of the Arab
Arab
population, the law expanded the base group of those eligible to immigrate to Israel.[7] A third explanation promoted by religious Jews
Jews
is that the overwhelmingly secular leadership in Israel
Israel
sought to undermine the influence of religious elements in Israeli politics and society by allowing more secular Jews
Jews
and their non-Jewish spouses to immigrate.[8] As of 2008, 2,734,245 Jews
Jews
have immigrated to Israel
Israel
since 1950.[9] Hundreds of thousands of people who do not have Jewish status under Orthodox Jewish interpretations of Halacha received Israeli citizenship, as the law confers citizenship to all offspring of a Jew (including grandchildren) and their spouses.[10] Controversy Followers of Messianic Judaism The Supreme Court of Israel
Israel
ruled in 1989 that Messianic Judaism constituted another religion, and that people who had become Messianic Jews
Jews
were not therefore eligible for Aliyah
Aliyah
under the law.[11] On April 16, 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in a case brought by a number of people with Jewish fathers and grandfathers whose applications for citizenship had been rejected on the grounds that they were Messianic Jews. The argument was made by the applicants that they had never been Jews
Jews
according to halakha, and were not therefore excluded by the conversion clause. They also immigrate as a non-Jewish relative of a Jew and not as a Jew. This argument was upheld in the ruling,[12][13] and the government agreed to reprocess their applications. Despite this, Messianic Jews
Jews
are considered to be eligible for the law if they can claim Jewish ancestry (having a Jewish father or grandfather). Claims of discrimination in relation to Palestinian refugees Critics claim that the Law of Return
Law of Return
runs counter to the claims of a democratic state.[14][15] Palestinians
Palestinians
and advocates for Palestinian refugee
Palestinian refugee
rights criticize the Law of Return, which they compare with the Palestinian claim to a Palestinian right of return.[16] These critics consider the Law, as contrasted against the denial of the right of return, offensive and institutionalized ethnic discrimination.[17] A report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) slammed the Law of Return, "conferring on Jews
Jews
worldwide the right to enter Israel
Israel
and obtain Israeli citizenship regardless of their countries of origin and whether or not they can show links to Israel-Palestine, while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians, including those with documented ancestral homes in the country," as a policy of "demographic engineering" meant to uphold Israel's status as "the Jewish state". The report was later withdrawn following controversy.[18][19] Same-sex relationships On June 10, 2011, the Law of Return
Law of Return
was tested when a gay male couple, one Jewish and one Catholic made Aliyah
Aliyah
to Israel. This couple was the first same-sex, different religion married couple to request joint Aliyah
Aliyah
Status, although opposite sex married couples of different religions receive joint Aliyah
Aliyah
as a matter of course. The Jewish man quickly received citizenship but the decision of citizenship for his husband was delayed by the Ministry of the Interior despite the clause in the law saying the spouse of the Jewish returnee must also be granted citizenship.[20] On August 10, 2011, the Ministry of the Interior granted citizenship to the non-Jewish husband as required by The Law of Return.[21] In 2014, Interior Minister Gidon Sa'ar officially decided that, according to the Law of Return, Jews
Jews
in same-sex relationships married abroad wishing to immigrate to Israel
Israel
can do so - even if their partners are not Jewish - and both they and their partners will receive Israeli citizenship.[22] Support for the Law of Return

A stamp in a passport issuing holder Israeli citizenship based on Law of Return

Supporters of the law say that it is very similar to those in many European states, which also employ an ethnic component.[23][24] Supporters argue that:

The Law of Return
Law of Return
is not the only way of acquiring citizenship. For example, non- Jews
Jews
can become citizens by naturalization, residence, or marrying an Israeli citizen. Naturalization, for instance, is available under certain circumstances for the non-Jewish parents of a citizen who has completed his or her army service.[25][26][27] The right granted to Jews
Jews
along with their relatives under the Law does not necessarily or automatically discriminate against non-Jews, but is a form of "positive" discrimination. Israel
Israel
has residency and citizenship laws for non- Jews
Jews
that are equivalent to those in other liberal democracies. Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) argues that the Law of Return
Law of Return
is consistent with Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Article I(3), which CAMERA says allows for preferential immigration treatment of some groups without discrimination against a particular group.[28] Thus, CAMERA[28] and others[29] argue that other countries, including Germany, provide immigration privileges to individuals with ethnic ties to these countries (See Right of return and Repatriation laws). While the purpose of the Law of Return
Law of Return
is perhaps to keep Israel predominantly Jewish, an argument states that a world where Jews
Jews
have been persecuted, the concept of maintaining a Jewish state is necessary for the survival of the Jewish people generally and to provide a safe haven for Jewish refugees
Jewish refugees
in specific cases. CAMERA argues the Law of Return
Law of Return
is justified under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Article I(4), which CAMERA argues allows for affirmative action, because of the discrimination Jews
Jews
faced during the Holocaust.[28] Benjamin Pogrund, director of Yakar's Center for Social Concern in Jerusalem and member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations World Conference against Racism, calls the law "unfair" from the Palestinian refugees' point of view, but sees the unfairness as having happened in other places too. Pogrund compares the flight/expulsion of Palestinians
Palestinians
(both in 1948 and 1967) to Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, India and Pakistan.[30]

Debate in Israel In Israel, a debate continues over the Law of Return. Some people wish to retain it as it stands, others want to modify it, and some to abolish the Law completely. Those who would abolish the Law object to it because it grants Jews
Jews
rights that members of other groups governed by the State of Israel
Israel
do not have.[31] Others argue that the law permits the entry of too many non-Jews, thereby undermining its purpose.[32] In September 2007, the discovery of a violent Israeli Neo-Nazi cell (Patrol 35) in Petah Tikva, made up of teenage immigrants from the former Soviet Union, led to renewed calls amongst politicians to amend the Law of Return.[33] Effi Eitam
Effi Eitam
of the National Religious Party and the National Union, which represent the religious Zionist
Zionist
movement and have previously attempted to advance bills to amend the Law of Return, stated that Israel
Israel
has become "a haven for people who hate Israel, hate Jews, and exploit the Law of Return
Law of Return
to act on this hatred."[34] On the other end of the political spectrum, MK Ahmed Tibi
Ahmed Tibi
of United Arab
Arab
List and Ta'al
Ta'al
criticized the system's double-standard, stating that, "people immigrated to Israel
Israel
and received automatic citizenship under the Law of Return, while citizens of Nazareth
Nazareth
and Tayibe
Tayibe
are not allowed to visit their own relatives merely due to the fact that they are Arabs."[34] 37 percent of Israelis polled said that deeper background checks on new immigrants would amount to racism against Jews
Jews
from Russian speaking countries.[35] Applicability of the law

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Amongst those who are in favor of retaining the Law, controversy exists over its wording. The Law's definition of a "Jew" and "Jewish people" are subject to debate. Israeli and Diaspora Jews
Jews
differ with each other as groups and among themselves as to what this definition should be for the purposes of the Law of Return. Additionally, there is a lively debate over the meaning of the terms "Jewish State" and "State of the Jews". Discussion around the Law and its wording constantly reappears on private and public agendas in Israel
Israel
and in the Diaspora. The Knesset has repeatedly debated proposals to amend the Law of Return, and it has indeed been amended a number of times over the years. These modifications reflect the changes that have taken place in Israeli society, the shifts that have taken place in political dialogue both inside Israel
Israel
itself, and the political discourse between Israel
Israel
and the Diaspora. The present law constitutes an expression of permanent trends as well as of the Israeli legislative system's ability to adapt itself to changing circumstances. It is not only the Knesset, however, which has been repeatedly obliged to directly or indirectly address these issues. Over the years, many of Israel's interior ministers have examined the issue of the Law of Return and wavered as to how to apply it. The judiciary has also been called upon to express an opinion on matters relating to the Law. This burning and recurrent question in the country's political dialogue not only reveals but also exacerbates differences of opinion between Israelis. One central issue is who has the authority over determining the validity of conversions to Judaism for purposes of immigration and citizenship. For historical reasons, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, under the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs, made this determination, but this arrangement is in question. This practice has met opposition among non-Orthodox religious leaders both within Israel and in the diaspora. Several attempts have been made to resolve the issue, the most recent being the Ne'eman Commission, but an impasse persists. On March 31, 2005, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled 7-4 that all conversions performed outside of Israel
Israel
would be recognized by the authorities under the Law of Return, notwithstanding the Ne'eman Commission's view that a single body should determine eligibility for immigration. The court had already ruled in 1989 that conversions performed outside of Israel
Israel
were valid for the Law of Return (regardless of whether they were Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform). The 2005 ruling extended this, finding that overseas conversions were still valid even if the individuals did the preparatory work for the conversions while residing in Israel.[36] See also

Israel
Israel
portal Law portal

Basic Laws of Israel Prevention of Infiltration Law Citizenship and Entry into Israel
Israel
Law Israeli identity card Israeli passport Politics of Israel Oswald Rufeisen
Oswald Rufeisen
(Brother Daniel)

References

^ "Israel :: Armistice and refugees - Encyclopædia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2014-07-08.  ^ Omer-Man, Michael (7 August 2011). "This Week in History: Jewish right to aliya becomes law". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 1 December 2015.  ^ Text of Law of Return ^ " Law of Return
Law of Return
5710-1950". Mfa.gov.il. Retrieved 2014-07-08.  ^ Everything on the Table, Including the Law of Return
Law of Return
Archived 2010-10-26 at the Wayback Machine., in Hebrew ^ The Law of Return: An Introduction ^ Ian Lustick, " Israel
Israel
as a Non- Arab
Arab
State: The Political Implications of Mass Immigration of Non-Jews,” Middle East Journal, 53:3, 101-117, 1999. ^ Eleonara Poltinnikova-Shifrin. "The Jewish State and the Law of Return." [1] 1 January 2002. ^ "Inside The Jewish Agency The Jewish Agency for Israel". Jewishagency.org. Archived from the original on 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2014-07-08.  ^ " Law of Return
Law of Return
to be revised - Israel
Israel
Jewish Scene, Ynetnews". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 2014-07-08.  ^ "Israeli Court Rules Jews
Jews
for Jesus Cannot Automatically Be Citizens". The New York Times. 1989-12-27. Retrieved 2010-05-07.  ^ "Court applies Law of Return
Law of Return
to Messianic Jews
Jews
because of fathers". jpost.com. The Jerusalem Post. 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-22. the petitioners were entitled to automatic new immigrant status and citizenship precisely because...they were the offspring of Jewish fathers.  ^ "Messianic Ruling". cbn.com. CBNnews.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-17. Myers told CBN News, "The bottom line is that if your father is Jewish or if any of your grandparents are Jewish from your father's side - even if you're a Messianic Jew - you can immigrate to Israel
Israel
under the law of return or under the law of citizenship if you marry an Israeli citizen."  ^ Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. "UN Economic, Social and Cultural Committee Expresses Grave Concern Over Israel's Discriminatory Practices." [2][permanent dead link] accessed 2 October 2006. ^ Press Releases: Occupied Palestinian Territory, The international community is bargaining with the rights of the Palestinians ^ Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Law of Return ^ return.PDF Archived 2001-09-06 at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid" (PDF). Archived from the original on 16 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) ^ "UN chief orders report accusing Israel
Israel
of 'apartheid' pulled from web". The Times of Israel.  ^ http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-refuses-citizenship-for-gay-man-married-to-jewish-immigrant-1.369936 ^ http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/anglo-file/ministry-grants-citizenship-to-gay-spouse-of-immigrant-1.382066 ^ http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183971 ^ Ouzan, Françoise S.; Gerstenfeld, Manfred (2014-06-27). Postwar Jewish Displacement and Rebirth: 1945-1967. BRILL. p. 36. ISBN 9789004277779.  ^ Democratic Norms, Diasporas, and Israel’s Law of Return, Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein Archived 2010-11-26 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Sheleg, Y. 2004. "Not Halakhically Jewish: the Dilemma of Non-Jewish Immigrants in Israel." Jerusalem: Israeli Democracy Institute, working paper 51 (in Hebrew) ^ Israel
Israel
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Acquisition of Israeli Nationality".[3] ^ International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, CERD/C/471/Add.2, 1 September 2005. ^ a b c "From 'Ethnic Cleansing' to Casualty Count, Prof. Qumsiyeh Errs" Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, August 20, 2004. ^ Christian Joppke & Zeev Rosenhek, "Contesting Ethnic Immigration: Germany
Germany
and Israel
Israel
Compared", European Journal of Sociology, 43, 301-335, 2003, also Nahshon Perez, "Israel's Law of Return: A Qualified Justification, Modern Judaism, vol 31 (1), 2011, pp: 59-84 " ^ Apartheid? Israel
Israel
is a democracy in which Arabs vote, by Benjamin Pogrund, Focus 40 (December 2005) ^ Gail J. Boling. "Palestinian Refugees and the Right of Return: An International Law Analysis." [4] Badil Information & Discussion Brief. 1 January 2001. ^ GDavid Clayman. "The Law of Return
Law of Return
Reconsidered." [5] Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 16 July 1995. ^ Rebecca Anna Stoil, Mark Weiss and Matthew Wagner (9 September 2007). "Sheetrit may deport alleged neo-Nazis". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2007-09-10. [permanent dead link] ^ a b Roni Singer-Heruti (10 September 2007). "Interior Minister: I'll consider revoking neo-Nazis' citizenship". Ha'aretz. Retrieved 2007-09-10.  ^ 1 in 3 thinks changing Law of Return
Law of Return
to stop crooks is racist ^ " Israel
Israel
Supreme Court: Ruling on Conversions to Judaism Done Abroad". Jewish Virtual Library. 

External links

The Law of Return
Law of Return
- The text of the law and its various amendments Democratic Norms, Diasporas, and Israel’s Law of Return
Law of Return
by Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein The problem is how to become an Israeli at the Wayback Machine (archived November 27, 2005) by Amnon Rubenstein, Ha'aretz

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