Aliyah is, of course, the right of any Jew to move to Israel and to receive Israeli citizenship simply because they are Jewish. In fact, the right to settle in Israel is expanded to a “child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew.” The law of return, then, is pretty generous. So generous, in fact, that Muammar Qaddafi qualifies to make aliyah to Israel, settle there and receive citizenship. As The Economist reports:
Gita Boaron told Israeli television she shares a great-grandmother with the colonel. “She fled her Jewish husband for a Muslim sheikh,” she says. “Her daughter was the colonel’s mother, making him Jewish under rabbinic law.”
In Netanya, a resort north of Tel Aviv, where many of the 100,000-odd Israeli Jews of Libyan origin have settled, a square has been called Qaddafi Plaza in anticipation of his arrival. “Whatever he’s done, Israel’s his home,” says Rachel, a widow sipping her macchiato, Libya’s beverage of choice, and nibbling abambara, a Libyan-Jewish pastry in one of the square’s Libyan-owned cafés. “After all, he’s a Jew.” With his curls, she says, he would fit into many a Libyan synagogue.
Technically, Qaddafi – the murdering dictator wanted by the ICC – is Jewish and may have the right to move to Israel and receive the many benefits of Israeli citizenship.* However Palestinians are restricted from returning to their homes that were taken from them in their own lifetime. Sters, in a comment on The Economist article, writes:
This would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that it highlights the injustice of Israel’s apartheid policy: Israeli citizenship is afforded to any person anywhere in the world who happened to have a Jewish mother with absolutely no connection whatsoever to the land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, but yet the gross majority of the native population, the Palestinians, are expelled from their lands, forced to live in either bantustan enclaves under Israeli military occupation, refugee camps, or in exile. The few Palestinians who do have Israeli citizenship are afforded second-class status with institutionalized housing, educational, and employment discrimination – not to mention being barred from military service and having district lines gerrymandered in order to dilute their political voice.
As Sters said, the fact that Qaddafi could find refuge in Israel would be funny, but…
* While some in Netanya may be awaiting Qaddafi’s olim, it would be surprising if the Israeli government allowed Qaddafi to make aliyah. Part of the law of return stipulates that the rights to aliyah are suspended if the person in question is considered to be dangerous to the welfare of Israel, if the person is wanted for a crime in the country of origin, has committed a serious crime, or has voluntarily changed his/her religion. I would assume the Israeli government would be able to find a reason to deny Qaddafi the right to aliyah somewhere…