An idea that I have been muling over in my head for a while is a reaction to the birthright policy of Israel. I have never been comfortable with the way that policy betweenZionist law of return, Israel and the United States have operated in relationship to my own person. It has never been a strong revolt, but a deep seated distrust. Ironically, it is the same distrust that I place on simple nationalism and its essential, exclusionary principles: you can’t have a nation without marking ideological/subjective borders; you can’t have a state without marking territorial borders. As such, it makes perfect sense that the process of defining Israel as a nation-state necessitates both the marking of boundaries on the land and with/in individuals. While I can deal with such markings in theory, I have a problem when the practice of territoriality then attempts to bring me into its rhetoric, essentiallyÂ pushing accountability onto me.
The law of return, as I understand it, claims that all Jewish people (loosely defined and used) have the ability to become full Israeli citizens as a process of ‘homecoming.’ There are a few purposes to the law: it provides a path to citizenship (necessary in any nation-state), it also purportedly solves fears of anti-semitism through the creation of a safe state and ends the diaspora/search for the land of Israel.
While problems exist on most levels of the its conception and implementation most problematic in my understanding is the relationship between expanding definition of those qualified to make the return and the inability of a Palestinian return. Through expanding who could return well beyond its original definition fromJew to child, spouse, grandchild et cetera there is initiated an infinite expansion that does not allow for a solution to the problem of Palestinian exile.
Part of the inability to solve the Palestinian return is thus placed not on the Israel’s own actions and policy, but on the potential citizens around the world. The placeholders of citizenship that exist for each of the 8 million non-Israelijews makes it impossible to deal with the actual people seeking to settle on that ground. The law of return makes it possible to foreclose the possibility of one person to obtain citizenship in order for another to have said citizenship in potentiality.
Such placeholder citizenship, as stated previously, places accountability on the ‘Jew’ who has no desire to ‘return,’ who has no intention to ‘return.’ However, there is no means of abandoning this placeholder granted by the census bureau. If there is a way to claim such a law of return, there needs to be an ability to deny, to revoke the so called ‘birthright.’