The Haredi parties negotiating with Likud the brass tacks of the next coalition government have decided to give up on changing the grandson clause in the Law of Return, despite their earlier demands to remove it, Reshet Bet Radio reported Monday morning. The same is likely true for Religious Zionism, which also vowed to eliminate the same clause.
In my pre-election interview with Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman (Meet Religious Zionist Simcha Rothman, Ben Gvir’s Moderate Ally), he stated: “First, we want to remove the Grandson clause. The Law of Return should bring Jews to Israel. But today, the Law of Return has an option for someone whose grandfather was a Jew. We say that the fact that the grandson of a Jewish man has the same status as a halachic Jew has created a situation whereby many who attain Israeli citizenship are not Jews, do not define themselves as Jews, and in most cases don’t even want to become Jews. That’s a mistake.”
The Likud team managed to convince their right-wing partners in the coalition that it would be wiser to establish a committee to discuss this issue and formulate its conclusions during the coming coalition term, but refused to include in the coalition agreement any passage that promises to modify the grandfather clause, cancel it, or even the proposed committee.
In that context, y’all know what’s a camel, right? A camel is a horse that was designed by committee (The adage was coined in 1959 by Sir Alec Issigonis, the designer of the original Mini).
The 1950 Law of Return gave people with one or more Jewish grandparents, and their non-Jewish spouses, the right to relocate to Israel and acquire Israeli citizenship. The law was amended in 1970, to extend the right of entry and settlement to people with at least one Jewish grandparent and a person who is married to a Jew, whether or not they are considered Jewish under Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law.
The Haredim and Religious Zionism wanted to amend the law again, eliminating the level of a Jewish grandfather, and limiting it to the offspring of a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father.
Incidentally, the Law of Return was tested in 2011, when a gay couple, one Jewish and one Catholic, made Aliyah. The Jewish spouse quickly received citizenship but the Interior Ministry was reluctant to accept his husband. The ministry finally gave in, and in 2014, then Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced that Jews in same-sex relationships who got married abroad are welcome under the Law of Return, even with a non-Jewish spouse, and both spouses would receive Israeli citizenship.
A compromise was reported last week, whereby gentile paternal grandchildren of Jews who arrive in Israel would be entitled to permanent residency status but won’t be granted Israeli citizenship. In the end, Likud negotiators quashed that idea, too.
The Haredim quit the fight, deserting Religious Zionism, because they felt they couldn’t ask for too much, seeing as they’ve already blocked the IDF draft bill and won finance for Haredi yeshivas that don’t teach core curriculum subjects such as math and English.
According to Prof. Sergio Della Pergola, an Italian-Israeli demographer, statistician, and demographic expert, specifically regarding the Jewish population, in 2021 there were 18 million individuals who are entitled to Israeli citizenship with all the financial benefits that come with it – and a whopping 54% of them are not Jewish.
In France, the rate of non-Jews out of all those eligible was 40%, and in the US, it was 55%. In contrast, in the former Soviet Union, where most Jews immigrated to Israel after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the rate of non-Jews among those eligible for aliya is 76%, and only less than a quarter of them are Jewish.