The United States of America has always been known as a country that has welcomed immigrants from all over the world (In this post, I’m not going to discuss the times when the US seemingly closed her doors on those who needed her most).
In the harbor of New York, the gateway of immigrants to the United States, stands proudly the Statue of Liberty, upon which one finds the following words etched in stone (written by the Jewish Poetess Emma Lazarus):
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…
The time has come for the State of Israel to take these words to heart.
In todays Ha’aretz we find the following troubling report:
Israel is set to deport a young ultra-Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn suspected of having intended to assassinate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel Radio reported Monday.
The case is believed to be the first time that Israel has sought deportation of a Jew for alleged intentions to commit security violations.
Perhaps the raison d’etre for the establishment of the State of Israel, a basic definition that nearly all can agree upon, was that the Jewish People would never again be homeless and defenseless. Every Jew who so desired could come home to the Land of Israel, and live proudly, freely and securely as a Jew. It is for this very reason that among the very first laws legislated by the State of Israel was the Law of Return, granting immediate and automatic citizenship to any Jew, from anywhere in the world, who chose to move to Israel.
Equally troubling are those that argue that Israel should only accept Jews who can support themselves financially, or otherwise not burden the state, as candidates for citizenship.
Whether one is religious, and as such believes that the Land of Israel is promised to the Jewish People by G-d, or if one is secular, and believes in the right of the Jewish People to self-determination and sovereignty in their historical homeland – in either case, no one has the right to refuse any Jew from living in Israel.
Every Jew in the world, whether rich or poor, religious or secular, right or left, criminals and convicts have a right to live in Israel. If a Jew is poor, then the Jewish State of Israel will extend her hand in kindness to him. If a Jew is sick, there must always be a bed in a hospital in Israel to care for him. If a Jew is a criminal, then he has the right to sit in a jail cell in the Land of Israel.
The State of Israel is not meant to serve as some type of exclusive country club for elitist Jews where only those deemed desirable by the powers that be may be admitted.
Perhaps the State of Israel should build a monument of her own, on which the words of Jeremiah (and the unceasing prayer of Rachel Imeinu) will be engraved:
V’shavu Banim L’Gvulam… / And the children (of Israel) will return to their borders (the Land of Israel)
The children of Israel – the Jewish People – all of them… No questions asked.