Reforms to the Law of Return Are Not an Attack on American Jewry

On the agenda of the new Knesset, which will first convene on Monday, is a bill to narrow the scope of the Law of Return, which at present guarantees citizenship to anyone with a single Jewish grandparent. Opponents of the reforms in both Israel and the U.S. have condemned the proposed changes in harsh terms, and claimed that it will drive a wedge between Israel and the Diaspora. Eugene Kontorovich argues that the facts do not support such assertions:

[The] original law of return was adopted in 1950 and is part of Israel’s foundational principles. It allowed anyone who is Jewish or has a Jewish parent to receive citizenship upon immigration. In 1970 that law was broadened to include people with only one Jewish grandparent, regardless of whether they were considered Jews under Jewish religious law, and it is that amendment that is being debated. Critics of the reform . . . are relying on several misrepresentations about the proposal.

The first myth is that the amendment would change Israel’s definition of who is a Jew, disqualifying people currently considered as such under Israeli law. This is simply not true: the grandparent clause does not relate to the question of “who is a Jew,” the status of Reform conversions, or other sensitive topics. That is because the 1970 amendment does not define the patrilineal grandchildren of Jews as “Jews,” but rather specifically as non-Jews who are nevertheless included in the Law of Return. The amendment made no change to determinations of status, nor would its removal.

A second myth is that the amendment would be an insult to American Jews, or dampen American aliyah. . . . Tens of thousands of Jews have made aliyah from the U.S. in the past decade—and only 67 of them did so under the grandparent clause, according to new research by my colleague Netanel Fisher. Many of those 67 would have been independently eligible for citizenship through other family ties.

The proposed amendment is motivated largely by immigration from Eastern Europe. . . . Today, the law is principally used by people from the former Soviet Union. Close to three-quarters of recent immigrants from these countries are not Jewish. The result of this in recent decades has been significant growth in a population in Israel that not only is not halachically Jewish, but much of which does not regard itself as Jewish. Indeed, some of them are practicing Christians.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora, Israeli politics, Law of Return


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University