This is the way to connect Jewish Diaspora to Israel

The time has come to make it easier for Jews to move to Israel - with certificates of eligibility for Aliyah. Op-ed.

Danny Danon ,

Western wall and the Temple Mount
Western wall and the Temple Mount
Mati Amar/TPS

In recent years, many experts have been grappling with the question of how to increase the connection between world Jewry and the State of Israel.

Israel is the home of the Jewish people no matter where they are in the world. It is clear that in reality not all Jews will move to Israel. Some live in established and prosperous communities and many have formed close ties to the place where they were born and raised. However, our goal today is to strengthen the connection that exists, increase the number of people interested in making Aliyah and help those who have already decided to move to Israel.

The coronavirus created an absurd situation. The Jewish state was forced to say no to Jews who wished to enter its doors. Due to border closures, although all Jews are welcome in Israel, for many months there were bureaucratic limitations which did not enable them to claim their birthright and move to Israel. This is despite the fact that the longing for Israel was more prevalent in the past year than in previous years. COVID accelerated the decision of Jews from all over the world to make Aliyah, but they had to wait, sometimes for many long months.

We all paid a heavy price with COVID, yet it brought families and the people of Israel closer together. This manifested itself in the added sense of belonging on both sides. World Jewry watched in concern and horror as thousands of rockets were fired at Israel. In Israel we were all shocked by the displays of antisemitism in the world's capitals. Now is the time to strengthen the connection between Israel and the Jewish people and to propose a new amendment that will adapt the existing 'Law of Return' to contemporary reality.

We in Israel are proud of the enactment of the ‘Law of Return’, whose focus is to unite and connect the Jewish people with their homeland. The wording of the law states that "Aliyah to Israel will be according to an Aliyah visa" and that "an Aliyah visa will be issued to any Jew who has expressed his desire to settle in Israel" except in extreme situations where the candidate may endanger the Jewish people, health or safety. In addition, "a Jew who comes to Israel and after his arrival has expressed his desire to settle there, may, while in Israel, receive an Aliyah certificate."

The law was implemented in 1950 and last amended in 1970. However, in light of the new reality in 2021, my proposed amendment is intended to respond to the heightened need we have witnessed in the past year. My recommendation is to amend the ‘Law of Return’ so that all Jews will be able to receive a certificate of eligibility that will allow them to make Aliyah to Israel at any moment in their life, without the need for immediate realization. The intention is to enable our brothers and sisters, wherever they are in the world and at any moment they desire, to complete the Aliyah process without committing to a specific Aliyah date. Upon completion of this process they will be entitled to receive an eligibility certificate which they will keep safe and be able to exercise at a time that is convenient for them.

The benefit of this proposed change is manifold. First, this very decision at the declarative level conveys to the Jews of the world the importance with which we view their relationship to Israel. Second, I am sure that anyone who receives the certificate of eligibility for Aliyah will feel even closer to the State of Israel. Finally I have no doubt that such a move will increase the number of new Olim each year, the number of visits to Israel as well as investments.

In recent years we have witnessed a significant increase in global antisemitism. For all Jewry, Israel is and should be viewed as a sanctuary. Even if it's just in thought and not in deed. A certificate of eligibility for Aliyah will only be a certificate, but the power and sense of belonging that it will achieve will be significant.

In these times when world Jewry is facing the scourge of antisemitism everywhere, this amplified connection will provide additional support to our brothers and sisters outside of Israel and will be another tier of connection for the entire Jewish people.

Ambassador Danny Danon served as Israel's 17th Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Deputy Minister of Defense. He is currently Chairman of the World Likud.



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