Asked in JudaismIsrael
Can non-Jews be citizens of Israel?
November 01, 2012 8:17PM
While Jews throughout the world can move to Israel and gain automatic citizenship, non-Jews do not have such a right. The minor exception to this rule is Palestinians who were born to Palestinian parents who have Israeli citizenship.
-- The question asks whether non-Jews can be citizens, not whether citizenship is automatic.
The correct answer is that significant fractions of Israel's population are Muslim citizens, Christian citizens, or Druze citizens, and that other small portions of the population are Buddhist citizens, Hindu citizens, Baha'i citizens, and atheist citizens, among others. All citizens of Israel have voting rights, and Muslims, Christians, and Druze representatives have been elected to seats in Israel's national parliament.
There is in fact a difference between Jewish Israeli citizenship and Arab Israeli citizenship. All Jewish citizens of Israel are required to do military service. Arab Muslim citizens are not. (There are other Arab citizens who are also required to do military service or may volunteer.)
Regarding "automatic citizenship", note that such a practice is virtually non-existent in the world, even in the US, the UK, etc. Immigration and citizenship in virtually all countries is limited, and subject to quotas and qualifications. (It is curious to note that other nations do have automatic citizenship for a certain ethnic group, such as Poland for Poles, Lithuania for Lithuanians, Armenia for Armenians and so on but nobody argues against these laws and calls them unfair.)
Jews have been citizens of their home country for four thousand years, but in some periods of history have lacked access to that country. In 1948, the home country of the Jews was restored in Israel, and it welcomes its rightful citizens from all of the other places in the world where they're not wanted.
-- The statement that non-Jews are prohibited from purchasing land in Israel is false, and the statement that non-Jews have limited educational opportunities in Israel because they are non-Jews is false.
-- The non-Jewish Palestinian population in Israel lives throughout the country,
including heavily-ethnic-Arab towns and villages in Israel, where they predominate in the education, employment, commerce. and culture of those Israeli towns and villages. Those who are Israeli citizens vote in their towns and villages during elections.
Note also that non-citizen, non-Jewish, non-resident Palestinians have brought land-use cases against Israel's government, in Israeli courts, and have won their cases.
Note also that although there are large numbers of Palestinians in Israel, both citizens and non-citizens, there are no 'refugee camps' in Israel.