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Ben Herzog

abstract

The evaluation of citizenship has always been tied to ethical issues, as citizenship laws reflect existing rules and also define the desired ‘good’ citizen. In order to assess whether ethical considerations have affected the legal construction of citizenship in Israel, I compared the two main laws in Israel that regulate newcomers and their citizenship—the Law of Return (1950) and the Citizenship Law (1952). I examined the legal texts and used content analysis to address the subjective intentions of the legislators who proposed them, as presented in an explanatory memorandum. Many scholars have argued that these laws were introduced as the foundational laws of the Jewish state. Nevertheless, until the 1980s, the Citizenship Law was explained as a technical measure governing the citizenship of non-Jews. Although both laws are presented as ethical, politicians characterize them as mainly republican, concealing their liberal ethical component.

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Ben Herzog

This article investigates the debates on expatriation policies after the establishment of Israel as an independent state in 1948. It shows that citizenship is a contingent political construction rather than an intrinsic national tradition. During the first years of its existence, the exact formulation of the type of citizenship in Israel was not fully established. Although scholars of the Israeli state claim that ethnicity dictated the formulation of Israeli rule, it was the desire to build a modern and democratic state that was the basis for naturalization and expatriation in Israel. The article argues that the resolution to allow multiple citizenships was pragmatic rather than ideological. It shows that in Israel, this policy was not derived from a post-national ideology but from the need to recruit more Jewish immigrants from affluent countries.