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Palestinian Arabs, Aliyah--and Anusim

Reader comment on item: Ending the Palestinian "Right of Return"

Submitted by Martin H. Katchen (United States), Jan 19, 2012 at 18:24

It needs to be stressed that in limiting it's citizenship, Israel is only behaving in accordance with the "derech eretz", (the way of the land) of the Middle East. Many Mideast countries limit citizenship. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are the prime examples. Kuwait and Bahrain limit citizenship to Sunnis and people who were born of stock that was in the country before a certain date. Saudi Arabia limits "citizenship" to the al Saudi Clan. And these are respected nations despite the "Arab Spring".

The so-called "peace (piece) process" has bought Israel 20 years to successfully increase it's birthrate and aliyah rate. Today, Israel is not in danger of being demographically overwhelmed if it grants all Arabs within the former British Mandate of Palestine Israeli citizenship. The real danger comes from a governing coalition of newly empowered Arabs and Leftist parties approving a Law of Return for so called Palestinians living outside of Israel. That is why this Supreme Court decision is welcome.

Israel can increase its Jewish population (or at least decrease it's percentage of hostile Muslims) by improved aliyah, though that is a subject that Prof. Pipes may want to address separately. Besides the Jews of France who are making aliyah rapidly, there is another, almost untapped source for Aliyah, the Anusim of Latin America and the United States.

They come from Jews who fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition in the 16th and 17th Centuries and because they would not marry Indians and other Spaniards would not marry them, many of them are actually halakhically Jewish if someone can photograph Catholic parish records in the towns they live in to prove it. And they loathe Catholicism. They are no more distant from Judaism than many of the Russians who have been accepted for aliyah.

Unfortunately, the Jewish community has been remiss in outreach to this segment of the community, largely due to snobbery by Sephardim who practiced Judaism openly and did not succumb to the Inquisition. And Evangelical Christians and Messianic congregations have opportunistically converted many of them to their brand of "Messianic Judiasm".

But not all. And many of these people are in a precarious position, particularly in Mexico and Central America due to persecution by drug gangs and by militant Catholic-fascist groups like El Yunque. With outreach, they (at least those who haven't already become Messianic Christians) would qualify for aliyah, although re-conversion might be neccesary to satisfy all halakhic requirements. As would those who are in the US illegally, don't belong in the US but have no real home in their home countries to safely go back to. Outreach followed by legal conversion and aliyah would solve their problem and they would be as readily absorbed into Israel as the Russian aliyah.

There are probably several million Anusim who potentially could make aliyah. They are enough to tip the balance irrevocably against Muslims in Eretz Yisroel. With 3 million new Israelis, Israel could safely extend citizenship to Arabs living in Judea and Samaria. With 6 million new Israelis, Israel could even look at reabsorbing Jordan. And there are at least that many Anusim in Latin America.

The influx of Anusim would be bound to be controversial. Hezbollah is already in Mexico's 200,000 Mexicans of Lebanese extraction and terrorism might be likely. Any major influx of Anusim might well draw the disapproval of the United States Government, since it would threaten US policy. How far the US might go to stop such an aliyah, with it's post-9/11 powers is another question to be explored.


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