New Article: Rürup, Zionist and Israeli Responses to Statelessness

Rürup, Miriam. “The Citizen and its Other: Zionist and Israeli Responses to Statelessness.” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 59 (2014): 37-52.





In the early post-war years, the DP camps worked toward shaping the “Zionist citizen” before a Zionist state existed. Israeli legislation defining who would and should belong to that new state of Israel considered membership of the Israeli nation as the fulfilment of Jewish history. Israeli citizenship was opened to all Jews worldwide. The concept of non-territory-bound belonging persisted and became trans-territorial. The humanitarian basis for introducing the Law of Return eventually led to a trans-territorial notion of Israeli citizenship for Jews worldwide. In a sense, not statelessness was overcome, but the link between the territorially based nation state and citizenship was erased. From a traditional perspective, the Jewish collective was never defined by territoriality, but by spirituality and ethnicity – which is what the Law of Return expresses. It defines the state of Israel both internally, as a Jewish state, and externally, by its inclusive character for Jews worldwide. If there is an irony to be observed here, it would be that, in many respects, the Law of Return validates the diaspora instead of negating it.

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