"Don't remove the grandson clause from the Law of Return." This was the request made by the new chairman of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Ted Deutsch, in a meeting he held with the most influential minister in the government, Ron Dermer.
"Don't remove the grandson clause from the Law of Return."
This was the request made by the new chairman of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Ted Deutsch, in a meeting he held with the most influential minister in the government, Ron Dermer.
The two met on Sunday morning.
A little while after they talked, Deutsch chose a more refined wording, in an interview with Israel Hayom.
"We want the Israeli government and our friends in Israel to understand that sending a message that some members of the Jewish community will not be welcomed here - this should be prevented."
Deutsch served for 12 years as a member of Congress in Washington, and is a staunch supporter of Israel.
He is a democrat and is not religious, but also Orthodox rabbis who recently met with senior government officials told the ministers: "The grandchild clause is an emotional and charged issue. You have to be very careful."
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These references are only one aspect of the complicated maze called the "grandchild clause".
The section was added to the Return Law in 1970.
It states that the grandchildren of Jews, their spouses and their children are also entitled to immigrate to Israel - even though not all of them are Jews.
Over the years the small repair turned into a big flood.
The law designed to preserve the Jewish identity of the state, will become a wide entrance gate specifically without Jews.
It was recently published in Israel Hayom that following the war in Ukraine, about 52,000 people immigrated to Israel - of which about 40,000 are not Jews according to Halacha.
The explanation is that about 20 thousand of them came up through the grandson section.
The parties of religious Zionism and Torah Judaism demanded that this flow be stopped in the coalition negotiations.
Their starting point was that the grandson section should be deleted from the law.
Seemingly, a simple way to close the hole in the dam.
One can imagine Ayman Odeh screaming: "The Law of Return perpetuates Israel's racism."
The anti-Israel left in the world will jump on the bargain.
The BDS movement will rub hands with delight.
Why provide them with this pleasure?
But Netanyahu refused.
In the agreements with Yitzhak Goldknopf and Bezalel Smotrich, it was determined that a joint committee would be established, which would determine within two months a new version of the Law of Return.
It was also agreed that "until the passage of the state budget for 2023, legislative amendments will be made to support the proper immigration policy."
A committee is known to be the tried and tested tool for resolving matters.
A month after the establishment of the government - the committee in question was indeed not established.
Culture Minister Miki Zohar even confirmed this week that the government will not abide by the agreement on solving the problem in 60 days.
And to be honest, it's good that this happens.
Because the end of the act is premeditated and such an explosive topic must not be closed with a huff-lap.
Even so, many new ministers in the government fall every Monday and Thursday, into ignorance that a wise man would beware of.
It is therefore worthwhile to defuse the mine of the grandson clause before bickering and superficiality lead to another explosion in front of the world.
Yuli Aldstein, former Minister of Absorption, warned in the Knesset that the opening of the Law of Return "will open Pandora's Box."
He was right.
The Law of Return is being challenged by supporters of the "State of all its citizens" and the Arab MKs. One can easily imagine Ayman Odeh screaming in Knesset debates, "The Law of Return perpetuates Israel's discrimination, racism and apartheid." The anti-Israel left in the world will pounce on the invention. - BDS will rub hands with pleasure. Why provide them with this pleasure?
Another difficulty is created by the war in Ukraine.
Both in front of the Jewish community and in front of the international community, closing the gates of aliyah to war refugees will look very bad.
Canceling the grandson clause will also bring back to the table the problem that gave rise to it - the status of non-Jewish Israeli children.
The number of these has increased and intensified since 1970. Back then even in the diaspora assimilation was little, today it is not rare in Israel either.
For example, there are soldiers, army graduates, soldiers of the land, who married abroad without being Jewish. Their grandsons and granddaughters sometimes enlist in the IDF.
Won't they also be entitled to Israeli citizenship?
Which brings us back to visibility.
The American Jewish leadership does not foresee (unfortunately) a wave of immigration to Israel.
that's not the point.
What bothers Deutsch and his friends is the message.
When Israel cancels the grandchild clause, it is actually saying to the hundreds of thousands of American Jews who may have assimilated but still love Israel, "Your grandchildren are not part of us."
Take the current US ambassador, Tom Neides, as an example.
The man prays at the Western Wall every week and loves Israel with all his heart.
He is married without a Jewish woman who bore him a son and a daughter.
Does the State of Israel say to him, "Sir, since you have assimilated, your grandchildren no longer have a place here"?
The answer should be negative.
Because like Neds there are many more.
Does Israel want to slap them in the face?
The American administrations on behalf of both parties are full of young people with such Jewish names.
A war with them is what we lack?
Israel in general and the current government in particular are fighting for the remnants of sympathy in the audiences of the Jewish-American left.
To cut the last strings that hold the relationship with him would be utter folly.
So other solutions are required, and they probably exist.
First of all because canceling the grandson clause will not end the non-Jewish immigration.
According to the same publication by my colleagues Hanan Greenwood, many of the immigrants today are second generation Jews.
These will by all accounts continue to arrive with their children.
Because of this, at least according to some of the profession's past and present factors, a combination of other tools may achieve a similar result.
The first step is to stop the activism of NATIV - the agency responsible on behalf of the government for immigration from the former USSR.
NATIV has become over the years a kingdom that wanders with Avigdor Lieberman from office to office, sometimes stretching the law and while only little is known in Israel about its activities. It is also known that its representatives adopt an expansive policy.
There are reports of locals in the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations who did not know about their Jewish roots at all, until someone on behalf of the State of Israel revealed it to them and suggested that they immigrate to the country.
These are actions that can definitely be stopped.
By the way, Deputy Minister Avi Maoz, who is responsible for NATIB, is currently reviewing the organization's policy.
In this context, one must ask why exactly in the former Soviet Union there is such a strenuous activity to locate immigrants? There are also millions in North and South America who do not know at all about their connection to the Jewish people. After 30 years, it is clear that the reserves of Jews in the former Soviet Union have been depleted.
Whoever wanted to come came, and whoever wanted to still could.
There is no reason to look for them with candles.
Another tool that can reduce the number of non-Jews is increasing regulation and tightening the criteria.
The Immigration Authority, which sets the rules, believes that the effect of such a step will contribute little.
Another step initiated by outgoing Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is the repeal of the "Lieberman Law", which automatically granted an Israeli passport to immigrants.
Now the immigrant will be required to live in Israel for at least a year to get a passport.
This will reveal the extent of his attachment to the people and the country.
Another route that is discussed in the systems and may be the agreed compromise is "attaching the grandchildren to the grandfather".
That is, it will be possible for the grandson to immigrate, but only on the condition that the Jewish grandfather comes with him.
That is, the grandson's section will remain in place, but a weight will be added to it.
In the countries of the former Soviet Union, that grandfather is no longer alive, and therefore there will be a significant drop in the number of non-Jews. On the other hand, the heavy damage to American Jewry will be avoided, since the message will still be "even a third generation will come here."
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