aside for the moment these fanciful and self-serving justifications.
(Why on Earth would anti-Semites want to come to live in Israel?)
What is clear is that, as far as the Times is concerned,
the Israelis and only the Israelis are permitted to address themselves
to the issue of the ethnic character of their state. Anyone else
broaching the subjecta Jorg Haider, for instancewill
immediately be denounced as "racist," "xenophobic,"
"nativist," "anti-Semitic" and drummed out
of respectable society. Yet Zionism is a nationalist doctrine
like any other. Its objective is to forge a state that embodies
the political aspirations of its constituting nation.
enough, there is one other country that operates a Law of ReturnGermany.
The German constitution granted automatic citizenship to ethnic
Germans who may never have lived in Germany but were the descendants
of German farmers and craftsmen who had settled in Russia and
Eastern Europe in the 18th century. Liberals foam at the mouth
at the mere mention of Germanys Law of Return. Turks, who
may have lived in Germany for decades, are denied citizenship,
they cry in horror, while ethnic Germans collect their passports
on arrival to the country. Outrageous then, that anyone should
consider ethnic origin as the basis for nationhood, rather than
mere physical residence. There is only one explanation for itGerman
"racism." Yet Germanys Law of Return is actually
more reasonable than Israels. Ethnic Germans, though they
may have lived for centuries in Kyrgyzstan, say, will still speak
German. I do not speak a word of Hebrew and have never been inside
a synagogue in my life. Yet I am entitled to Israeli citizenship
since my mother was Jewish.
the Israelis, the Germans had a rather restrictive nationality
policy. Up to this year, German nationality was determined by
the nationality of ones parents, not by the place of birth.
Foreign-born immigrants and their German-born children could apply
for German citizenship provided they had legally resided in the
country for 15 years and were prepared to renounce their original
citizenship. For years liberals denounced this German system.
It was based on "blood," they mumbled darkly. Under
enormous foreign pressure, Chancellor Schroders government
changed the law earlier this year. Foreigners now have the right
to apply for German citizenship after eight years of legal residence.
Children born in Germany to foreign parents will acquire German
citizenship at birth, provided at least one parent has lived legally
in Germany for a minimum of eight years. Children acquiring German
citizenship at birth will have to decide before their 23rd birthday
whether they want to retain their German citizenship or their
parents citizenship except in special circumstances. There
is still to be no dual citizenship.
then "racist," "xenophobic," intolerant Germany
or Austria with Israel. What triggered the Times article
was recently published figures showing that during the first three
months of 1999 non-Jews outnumbered Jews55 percent to 45
percentamong immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Panic
seized the Israeli body politic. Non-Jews were acquiring too much
political clout. "The loopholes in the law must be closed,
thundered Rahamim Malul, a lawmaker from the religious Shas party
recently, "so that the state will not turn into a country
where a large percentage of its citizens are gentiles."
the loopholes are being closed. Immigration policy is increasingly
restrictive. Many immigrants are unable to marry, since Orthodox
rabbis (who alone are authorized to perform weddings in Israel)
refuse to officiate at what they view as mixed-marriage ceremonies.
An Israeli who wishes to marry a non-Jew must leave the country
to marry. And even then the Interior Ministry may not accept the
validity of such a marriage. Recently, it declared that non-Jewish
spouses could not enter Israel under the Law of Return, but had
to apply under regular immigration rules.
nation has the right to run its affairs the way it wishes to.
We may not wish to live in Israel. But Israel is Israel; and the
United States is the United States. The point is that every nation
should also have the right to discuss its destiny in any manner
it wishes to. It is intolerable that liberals have imposed this
order whereby Israelis can happily debate the ethnic makeup of
their nation while Americans who address themselves to such issues
face moral opprobrium, marginalization andwho knows?one-day