The Law of Return: Only racist when Israel does it

A couple days ago, a blog was posted right here on Times of Israel attacking the Law of Return as racist. The author, Amir Hetsroni, is not the first (and won’t be the last) to label the Law of Return as racist. Several in the anti-Israel brigade have attacked the Law of Return, some saying it proves the existence of apartheid in Israel. These people however (as always) leave out a lot of context in regards to the Law of Return.

The Law of Return states that any Jew on Earth is eligible to receive automatic citizenship in Israel.  The law also applies to the children, grandchildren of Jews, as well as the spouses of the aforementioned people. However, if the Minister of Interior determines a Jewish immigrant to be a threat to the welfare or security of the State of Israel (e.g. Max Blumenthal), an exception to the Law of Return may be made. The law was created in response to the centuries of persecution the Jewish people have endured across the globe. The law is supposed to give Jews a place of refuge away from hatred and anti-Semitism. The law is itself, a response to racism.

People argue the Law of Return is racist and constitutes apartheid because it leaves out Palestinian refugees. However, apartheid means a separation of and discrimination against a country’s citizens within a country. Because Palestinian refugees do not live within Israel, the Law of Return cannot be an apartheid law. In addition, the Law of Return does not forbid non-Jews from becoming citizens of the State of Israel. Any non-Jewish immigrant to Israel can obtain Israeli citizenship after five years of residency and demonstration of a basic knowledge of Hebrew. The Law of Return in no way, shape, or form infringes on any rights of non-Jewish citizens of Israel. All this blind criticism is just another example of the anti-Israel brigade parroting terms they clearly don’t know the meaning of and twisting them to fit their poisonous agenda.

Yes, the Law of Return clearly constitutes an example of ethnic favoritism. However, Israel is far from alone from enacting such a law. There are many other countries across the globe that favor one ethnicity over all others in regards to immigration. This principle is called jus sanguinis (Latin for right of blood). Countries that invoke jus sanguinis laws include, among others:

  • Armenia – Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia states “Individuals of Armenian origin shall acquire citizenship of the Republic of Armenia through a simplified procedure.”
  • Bulgaria – Article 25(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria states “A person of Bulgarian origin shall acquire Bulgarian citizenship through a facilitated procedure.”
  • Croatia – Article 16 of the Law on Croatian Citizenship states “A person who belongs to the Croatian people with no domicile in the Republic of Croatia can acquire Croatian citizenship if he fulfills the requirements of Article 8, Paragraph 1, Point 5 of this Act.”
  • Hungary – Section 4(3) of the Hungarian Citizenship Act states “If the requirements set out in Paragraphs b) and d) of Subsection (1) are satisfied, upon request a non-Hungarian citizen whose ascendant was a Hungarian citizen or who is able to substantiate of being of Hungarian origin may be naturalized on preferential terms, if he/she proves that he/she is sufficiently proficient in the Hungarian language. “
  • Lithuania – Article 32(4) of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania states “Everyone who is Lithuanian may settle in Lithuania.”
  • Poland – Article 52(5) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland states “Anyone whose Polish origin has been confirmed in accordance with statute may settle permanently in Poland.”
  • Serbia – Article 23 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia states “A member of Serbian or another nation or ethnic group from the territory of the Republic of Serbia, who is not residing in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, can be admitted to citizenship of the Republic of Serbia if he is 18 years old and if he is not deprived of working capacity and if he submits a written statement considering the Republic of Serbia his own state.”

How come we never hear any of the countries listed above being accused of apartheid? Or what about countries like Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates or Yemen that don’t even allow Israeli passport holders to enter their country. Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen take it a step further and deny entry to anyone who has an Israeli stamp in their passport, regardless of nationality. Where is all the angst over that?

There is a difference between the Jewish people and all the ethnic groups listed above. The Jewish people have been subjected to persecution for centuries after being exiled from their land by the Romans in 70 CE. The other ethnic groups have not been expelled from their land or suffered the persecution the Jews have experienced. The Jewish people are still recovering from their expulsion from the Land of Israel almost 2,000 years ago.

In an age where anti-Semitism is growing rapidly (especially in Europe), the Law of Return is needed. So, Mr. Hetsroni, go and emigrate from Israel like you claim you plan to in your bio. Israel will be better off without people like you. However, maybe one day your grandchildren will have to flee from anti-Semitic persecution. What will they do? Where will they go? Oh, I know. They will go to Israel, under the Law of Return. The same law you panned as racist and apartheid.

About the Author
Cliff, a recent college grad, lives in the NYC borough of Queens. Raised in a reform Jewish household, he now considers himself a secularist Jew who unequivocally support Israel's right to exist and defend itself against its sworn enemies.
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