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In November 1917, the Balfour Declaration was written to give support to a ‘national home for the Jewish people’. British foreign secretary Lord Balfour stated explicitly that this territory needed to take into account the non-Jewish population living in Palestine: “It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The declaration itself was an empty gesture, since it offered no practical help or support. However, it became a pivotal document of great symbolic relevance in later years. After WWII, the international community decided to partition (November 1947) British held Palestine into two national homes: one country for Jews, one for Palestinians. The Palestinian and Arab leaders rejected this partition plan. The Jewish leaders complied and declared their independence in May 1948. In the ensuing war, Jordan occupied the West Bank, Gaza fell to Egypt. The Palestinians were forcefully driven out from their villages and towns by the Zionist militias, known in Arabic as the Nakba (disaster). The homeless Palestinians became refugees in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip and in the countries bordering the new state of Israel. In 1950, the parliament of the young state of Israel decided to grant citizenship to every Jew who desired it. Anyone with a Jewish grandparent was eligible for citizenship. At present, the Law of Return is used to invite Jews who, according to Israel, face danger in the countries they call home. Its main purpose is to increase the Jewish Israeli population in the demographics of Israel and Palestine, in which the non-Jewish population is perceived as a demographic threat. In June of 1967, Israeli forces occupied lands that Jordan and Egypt had taken in the War of Independence of 1948. The area was home to many Palestinians who had fled or were forced out of their towns and villages during the Nakba. Nowadays, the Law of Return is used to increase the Jewish Israeli population while the Palestinian population is perceived as a demographic threat, its dispossession and push into exile continues. The Law underscores both the continuation of the conflict and the absence of justice. To express our unity in protest, we in the global progressive Jewish movement, renounce the idea of ‘return’ and reject any ‘right’ to the “Jewish State.” To reject the Law of Returnsoon you can sign our declaration:

Reject the Law of Return

I _____, as a Jew and citizen of  ____  reject Israel’s Law of Return. This law offers me Israeli Citizenship. I cannot accept this offer as long Palestinian refugees are denied any right to return to their home. Why?

  • My Jewish identity affirms justice, diversity, equality and the value of all human lives.
  • This unjust Israeli law further contributes to the asymmetrical conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and thus prevents the possibility of a just peace.
  • The state of Israel does not represent all Jews of the world nor the profound tradition of Jewish ethics.

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