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Breaking the Law of Return

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Co-authors: Hannah Mermelstein, Nava Etshalom, and Amy Kaplan

We are Jews from the United States, who, like Jewish people throughout the world, have an automatic right to Israeli citizenship under Israel's "law of return."

Today there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees around the world. Israel denies their right to return to their homes and land--a right recognized and undisputed by UN Resolution 194, the Geneva Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Meanwhile, we are invited to live on that same land simply because we are Jewish.

We renounce this "right" to "return" offered to us by Israeli law. It is not right that we may "return" to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed.

In 1947-49, Zionist militias destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages and made more than 800,000 Palestinian people refugees in order to create a Jewish state on land where the majority was not Jewish. It is Palestinians who have the right to return to their own land.

Now in Gaza, where more than three quarters of the people are refugees, the State of Israel not only denies the population its right of return, but also incarcerates the entire Gaza Strip under illegal and inhumane siege conditions.

We reject the notion that Israel is a "safe haven" from anti-Semitism for Jews. No one is truly safe when the price of that "security" is oppression, inequality, and occupation of another people.

Today there is a growing transnational movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, called for by Palestinian civil society and supported by activists, artists, and academics around the world, including an increasing number of conscientious Israelis. As part of this campaign, we pledge to boycott the "law of return." As an act of political and ideological divestment, we repudiate the claims the State of Israel makes on us as potential citizens.

We protest Israel's colonial policies and discriminatory laws toward the Palestinian people, as well as the U.S. government's political and financial support of these policies.

We hereby renounce Israel's "law of return" and refuse to lend the state our support, resources, or passports.

 

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Anna Baltzer is a Jewish-American Columbia graduate, former-Fulbright scholar, the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, and an award-winning lecturer, author, and activist for Palestinian rights. As a volunteer with the International Women's Peace (more...)
 
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