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The Meaning and Liberal Justifications of Israel's Law of Return


Dan Ernst


Ewha Womans University

January 31, 2010

Israel Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 564-603, 2010
Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 03-10

Abstract:     
The Article argues for a new assessment of the significance of Israel’s Law of Return - that the Law of Return reflects not the sovereign prerogative of a state to control immigration, but the right of every Jew to settle in the Land of Israel. This understanding of the Law of Return explains why Section 4 proclaims that as far as the Law is concerned, the status of Jews born within the State of Israel is the same as those arriving to Israel from abroad. Resolving the anomaly of Section 4 dispels several misinterpretations of the Law of Return and the critiques of the Law which grow out of these misinterpretations. The Article also surveys and answers several liberal objections to Israel’s policy of granting preference in immigration and naturalization based on ethno-national identity and presents an argument for giving priority to Jewish immigration and naturalization based on the extra benefits (religious, political, and communal) that Jews receive from such immigration and naturalization. Finally, it is submitted that the State of Israel has an obligation of justice to admit Jews into the state as full citizens upon their demand, since this was a reasonable expectation of those in past generations who had contributed to the existence and maintenance of the state.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Israel, Liberal, Law of Return, Jew, Sovereign Prerogative, Immigration, Naturalization, Israel Law

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Date posted: January 31, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Ernst, Dan, The Meaning and Liberal Justifications of Israel's Law of Return (January 31, 2010). Israel Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 564-603, 2010; Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 03-10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1545263

Contact Information

Dan Ernst (Contact Author)
Ewha Womans University ( email )
11-1 Daehyun-dong
Seodaemun-gu
Seoul 120-750, Seoul 120
Korea
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