Monday, August 20, 2012

Immigrating to Israel

Note: I'm in Germany for a week, so my posting schedule might be disrupted.

If I found a way for you to legally immigrate to Somalia, would I post it here?

Absolutely.

Do I think it's a good idea for you to immigrate to Somalia? No. Would I encourage it? No. But I don't think it's my right to decide for you where you should or should not move to. Thus, I expect that while some people might have issues with those moving to Israel, particularly under the procedure I'm about to explain, I'm going to post this information, too. The history of Israel is long and complex and I've noticed that those who take sides both for and against Israel often fail to note the history. It's a long, sad story of tit-for-tat reprisals where both the origins and present day reality are often ignored in favor of contradictory views on what people think is "right".

Also, I have friends in Israel and they describe a different situation than what you hear in the news, but I'm sure you're not surprised by that.

Theodor Herzl, father of modern Zionism
Normally, it's not easy to move to another country, but if you are Jewish, you can immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. From the Wikipedia article:
The Law of Return (Hebrew: חוק השבות, ḥok ha-shvūt) is Israeli legislation, passed on 5 July 1950, that gives Jews the right of return and settlement in Israel and gain citizenship. In 1970, the right of entry and settlement was extended to people of Jewish ancestry, and their spouses.
The steps to become an Israeli citizen under this process are as follows:

  • You must be a Jew, the spouse of, the child of, or grandchild of a Jew.
  • You must apply for an Oleh (Jewish person seeking to immigrate to Israel) visa.
  • At the expiry of 90 days after your entry to Israel (you don't need to remain), you will automatically be offered Israeli citizenship.
  • If you reject citizenship, you will remain an Oleh and have permanent residency.
You may apply for that visa either before or during your trip to Israel. Rejecting the citizenship may seem strange, but it allows Jews who would otherwise be forced to give up their previous citizenship to still live in Israel.

For the purpose of the applying the Right of Return, a "Jew"" is defined as anyone who was born to a Jewish mother or has been converted to Judaism, and is not a member of another faith.

Note that the Law of Return is extremely controversial, even among Israeli Jews, and many "returning" Jews are offered property in West Bank land that some claim is not part of Israel.


If you're not familiar with the extensive history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, be aware that there is right and wrong on both sides. If you have friends in Israel, I would strongly recommend that you talk to them to better understand the pros and cons of this choice. Depending on where you settle, it could be a hard choice indeed.
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