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Israel to expand Law of Return to 4th generation descendants of Russian Jews

October 5, 2022 at 3:52 pm

The Star of David sits atop the Moscow choral synagogue in Moscow, Russia on 28 July 2022 [KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images]

The Israeli government is considering an extension to the country’s Law of Return to cater for fourth generation descendants of Russian Jews attempting to flee from Moscow’s mass call-up of reservists to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that this could be a temporary measure.

According to the Times of Israel, Lieberman initially raised the issue during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, arguing for this “fourth generation” to be eligible for citizenship in some way. Prime Minister Yair Lapid is reported by Kan broadcaster as saying that the issue should be discussed further in an in-depth inter-ministry discussion, which was held on Monday.

“We are not proposing including the fourth generation in the Law of Return or giving them automatic citizenship, but rather to treat them on the basis of our historical obligation to humanitarian and Jewish values,” wrote Lieberman on Twitter. “The Jewish people experienced no shortage of tragedies and misery in the Second World War, which was at a time when no country accepted Jewish refugees. This is the fourth generation, the offspring of Jews who have a clear link to Judaism and a direct connection to their families living in Israel.”

However, the far-right minister was criticised by Zionist MK Simcha Rothman. “The Law of Return was enacted so that Israel would be a Jewish state,” tweeted Rothman. “Lieberman is working on destroying Israel’s Jewish identity.”

Most of the emigrants from Russia are Jews, but some may only have close relatives who are Jewish. Under Israel’s Law of Return, a person needs at least one Jewish grandparent to be entitled to immediate citizenship. Around 600,000 Russians qualify. The scale of the migration seems to have taken the Russian authorities by surprise.

Human rights groups regularly highlight this policy when referring to Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 to make way for the creation of the occupation state. They have been denied their legitimate right to return to their homeland, even though fulfilment of this right was a condition of Israel’s membership of the UN.

READ: Why is Israel allowed to annex occupied land, but Russia isn’t?