On this day: Law of Return passed to ensure citizenship for all Jews – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on July 5, 2021

July 5 marks the 71st anniversary of Israel's enacting of the Law of Return, legislation that allows anyone who is Jewish to immigrate and obtain Israeli citizenship.

Based on Zionist principles, the law was intended to ensure that the State of Israel would be a Jewish state and a home for the Jewish people.

The law was later amended twice. The first time was on August 23, 1954, under then-prime minister Moshe Sharett, when a provision was added to deny citizenship to certain people, such as those with a criminal record.

The second change was more significant and on March 10, 1970 under then-prime minister Golda Meir, the law expanded the Right of Return to those who were not deemed Jewish according to Orthodox halacha definition, but also to those who were married to a Jew, converts to Judaism, or the grandchild of someone who was Jewish. Those not eligible for citizenship, however, were those who converted to another religion despite still being Jewish according to Halacha and, following a 1989 High Court of Justice ruling, Messianic Jews, as long as they don't have Jewish ancestry.

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Israel is not the only country with a Right of Return. In fact, the principle is very old, and a variant can even be found in the Magna Carta signed by King John of England in 1215.

Today, several countries possess active laws granting a Right of Return, including Armenia, Finland, who grant citizenship to those with ancestry, and Liberia, which grants citizenship to anyone of African descent.

But three countries that give right of return especially for Jews are , Portugal, Spain and Germany. The former two grant citizenship to Sephardi Jews if they can prove that they are descended from Jews expelled from the Iberian peninsula in 1492.

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On this day: Law of Return passed to ensure citizenship for all Jews - The Jerusalem Post

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