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We Renounce Israel Rights

British Jews Renounce Residency and Citizenship Status in Israel in Favor of Palestinian Refugees

Fwd: Open Letter Published in The Guardian, 8 August 2002


BADIL Resource Center, 9 August 2002

As the Israeli government considers stripping Palestinian citizens of their Israeli citizenship based on grounds of ‘violating state security and breach of trust’ (Ha’aretz, 6-8-02), a group of 46 British Jews have published an open letter in the British daily, The Guardian (8-8-02), renouncing their right of residency and citizenship in Israel as set forth in Israel’s 1950 Law of Return in protest of the discriminatory nature of the law and against Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories. The letter is reprinted below.

Following the mass exodus and displacement of the indigenous Palestinian Arab population in 1948, Israel adopted discriminatory citizenship, nationality and residency laws that effectively denationalized Palestinian refugees and prevented them from returning to their places of origin. Citizenship and nationality in Israel is based on a two-tier system, one for Jews and the other for ‘non-Jews.’ On the one hand, any Jew can acquire automatic citizenship and residency, based on the notion of ‘historical residence,’ under the 1950 Law of Return. The law grants all Jews, regardless of their national origin or citizenship, the right to citizenship and residency in Israel.

On the other hand, the indigenous Palestinian Arab population including refugees must be able to prove (among a list of 5 conditions for those born before the establishment of the state of Israel and 3 conditions for those born after) that they were in the state of Israel on or after 14 July 1952, or the offspring of a Palestinian who meets this condition. Due to the fact that most Palestinian refugees were displaced outside the borders of the state of Israel on or after 14 July 1952, they are unable to resume domicile in their homeland. In practice, naturalization only occurs in extraordinary cases. Israeli citizenship is almost never granted to non-Jews.

Several UN human rights treaty bodies (e.g., Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, Committee Against all Forms of Racial Discrimination) that monitor compliance with international human rights conventions have called for reform of Israel’s citizenship and nationality laws to bring them into compliance with international human rights law and allow Palestinian refugees to resume domicile in their homeland. The international community, moreover, has pressured states to reform or repeal similar discriminatory legislation that prevented refugees from returning to their homes of origin in places such as Bosnia.

BADIL welcomes the British initiative and encourages other similar initiatives based on non-discrimination, mutual respect and international law.


“We Renounce Israel Rights”

The Guardian

Thursday, 8 August 2002

We are Jews, born and raised outside Israel, who, under Israel’s “law of return”, have a legal right to Israeli residence and citizenship (Real lives, G2, August 7). We wish to renounce this unsought “right” because:

1) We regard it as morally wrong that this legal entitlement should be bestowed on us while the very people who should have most right to a genuine “return”, having been forced or terrorised into fleeing, are excluded.

2) Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians are barbaric – we do not wish to identify ourselves in any way with what Israel is doing.

3) We disagree with the notion that Zionist emigration to Israel is any kind of “solution” for diaspora Jews, anti-semitism or racism – no matter to what extent Jews have been or are victims of racism, they have no right to make anyone else victims.

4) We wish to express our solidarity with all those who are working for a time when Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip can be lived in by people without any restrictions based on so-called racial, cultural, or ethnic origins.

We look forward to the day when all the peoples of the area are enabled to live in peace with each other on this basis of non-discrimination and mutual respect. Perhaps some of us would even wish to live there, but only if the rights of the Palestinians are respected. To those who consider Israel a “safe haven” for Jews in the face of anti-semitism, we say that there can be no safety in taking on the role of occupier and oppressor. We hope that the people of Israel and their leaders will come to realise this soon.

Michael RosenIan Saville

Prof Irene Bruegel

Michael Kustow

Mike Marqusee

Prof Steven Rose

Leon Rosselson

and 38 others

NOTE: The full list of names was not printed in The Guardian.

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