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Home » Israel

Law of Return

Submitted by on November 12, 2004 – 4:25 pmNo Comment | 2,713 views

Many have wondered about Israel’s “Law Of Return”, a policy that grants all Jews, regardless of background or citizenship, the right to instant Israeli absorption and citizenship. This law has been roundly criticized as a policy of racism.

The condemnation sounds rational and acceptable to those uninformed of Jewish nuance and ideology. In this article I would like to present a Jewish perspective that forms the basis for this policy.

The Jewish claim to Israel is unique among nations in that it is a religious claim not a national one.  

A nation is comprised of a people who reside within the geographic boundaries of a given country. Though the people of the nation share distinctive cultures and value systems the primary factor that binds them is their patriotism and their country.

In other words, the land forms the nation; it alone unites them sparking within them ethos of patriotism. This means that for most nations, the country came first the nation second, the land was the cause the nation the effect.

Judaism is unique in that their nationality is not contingent upon their land. Judaism has survived, and has in fact thrived, for thousands of years outside the land of Israel. This is because their nation is not formed by their land but by their faith. It is a religion first a nation second.

In turn, the Jewish claim to their land does not stem from their possession of it or from their presence therein. Their claim is a religious one

Jews have claimed ownership of their land ever since G-d pledged it to their Patriarch Abraham. The basis for this claim is in the Bible “And I will grant the land to you and to your offspring as an eternal inheritance.” (Gen. 17 18) Jews see this verse as granting them title to the land for the balance of history, despite their subsequent expulsion from it and its rehabilitation by other nations.

In this case, the nation precedes the country, the nation came first and the land was subsequently bequeathed to them. The nation became the source, the country the consequence. Unlike other nations, the Jewish claim to Israel does therefore not depend upon their presence in it or their possession of it, as long as the nation exists the country belongs to it.

Jews view themselves as heirs to Abraham Isaac and Jacob to whom the land was originally promised. An heir apparent is granted the right to his inheritance by birth. This right remains with him regardless of his presence in his place of heritage or lack thereof. Similarly, with G-d’s promise to the patriarchs, the land of Israel became the Biblical birthright of all Jews for all time regardless of their whereabouts.

As such Jews have always maintained passionate ties with the land of Israel. It is no wonder that ever since the State of Israel was established, Jews, the world over, flock to its shores and are granted immediate citizenship.

Jews believe it is their home, the deed signed by G-d himself.