CEO of the American Jewish Committee, Ted Deutch, stated that he is collaborating with his Israeli friends to stop the Jerusalem government from altering the Law of Return.
A person who has a single Jewish grandparent is currently entitled to automatic Israeli citizenship.
Deutch stated, “We want the Israeli government and our friends to know that we will take action to stop anything from happening to sow rifts within Diaspora Jewry.
“Especially today, during an upsurge in antisemitism, we don’t want anything to happen that could prevent people from viewing Israel as their haven of safety.”
The former congressman stated that during his discussions with Israeli officials this week, he had been “lucid” about the situation.
We have been clear in our discussions that any limitations placed on the Law of Return are not a message we can deliver to Jewish communities worldwide.
A person is considered Jewish or adheres to Jewish religious law if they or their mother are Jews or if they convert to Judaism.
According to halacha, there are currently an estimated 400,000 Jews living in Israel who do not believe themselves Jewish.
Regarding the Law of Return, then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion decided that “whoever was born to a Jewish mother and is not of another faith, or whoever converted according to Jewish law” would be regarded as a Jew with the creation of the Jewish state.
However, the Law of Return was decided to allow a Jew’s offspring and grandchildren to immigrate to Israel in 1970.
No agreement was reached despite several conversations over what constitutes a Jew and what constitutes a person who converts in a non-Orthodox manner during that time.
Earlier this month, the heads of seven influential Jewish and Zionist groups cautioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that modifications to the Law of Return’s “grandfather clause” could impact the community’s cohesiveness worldwide.
Rabbi David Lau, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, encouraged the Knesset to change the Law of Return to reduce non-Jewish immigration in November.
The issue surfaced during a rush of immigration from Russia and Ukraine when Moscow invaded the latter nation, most of whom were not Jewish—only three out of ten, according to figures from Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority from mid-November.
The country’s Jewish majority has decreased due to a boom in legal immigration by people who are not halachically Jewish, according to an examination of statistics from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
The 23-year high number of new immigrants last year led to a 0.3% fall in the Jewish majority, to 73.6% from 73.9% at the end of the year, according to the Israeli Immigration Policy Center, an NGO founded in 2012 to promote immigration policy that supports Israel’s strategic interests.
The country’s Jewish majority has decreased by around ten percentage points over that time, losing ground at an average rate of about one point every three years. This continues a 30-year pattern.
Only 32,000 (45% of all incoming immigrants) were Jews in 2022 due to the “grandparent clause.”