"When I arrive to some foreign country," he quoted, "I never ask whether the laws there are good or bad, but only whether they are enforced." (c) the Strugatsky brothers, (often misattributed to Confucious).
The hysteria around those Israeli-born foreign workers' kids and the protests against their deportation is really getting on my nerves; and it's even not so much the foreign workers themselves as the various "human rights" organizations (who should probably rather be called "human rights of some selected groups of people" organizations, said groups of people including Palestinian terrorists, foreign workers etc, but never the citizens of Sderot or Gilad Shalit), and not so much the human rights organizations as the fact that the government chooses to succumb to them (see latest article for example)
In this note we will overview the overview the Israeli citizenship law, the two methods used in defining citizenship laws around the world, the repatriation laws around the world and the (lack of) logic behind the demands of the "human rights" organizations.
So, here goes the citizenship law of Israel-- the full text of the law is here: http://www.geocities.com/savepalestinenow/israellaws/fulltext/nationalitylaw.htm--
And here's a short summary of ways to get Israeli citizenship from that law:
1. Any Jew who makes Aliyah may be granted Israeli citizenship
2. Anyone born in Israel among whose parents at least one was an Israeli citizen at the time of his birth may get an Israeli citizenship
3. By naturalization: having had a permanent residence permit and resided in Israel at least three years out of five years prior to submission of his application
4. Someone who served in the army may get an Israeli citizenship as may the parents of a soldier who died during army service.
5. Israeli citizenship is conferred to children of people who acquire Israeli citizenship.
6. By marriage to an Israeli citizen
Also, I believe there is a provision allowing the minister of the interior to grant an Israeli citizenship in exceptional circumstances, which for some reason I'm not finding in this text-- but there is no regular legal way (=an established procedure) for children of illegal immigrants to obtain an Israeli citizenship under the current legislation.
And I don't see why should there be one.
But then, step up the human right groups and claim that deporting those children (and their parents) would be immoral and violate human rights etc etc and thus citizenship should be granted to them. Some argue further that the Israeli citizenship law is racist and that it deports all those "poor children who had lived in Israel all of their life" while allowing some other people to immigrate and get citizenship, only because they're Jewish.
But is it?
Let's examine citizenship and repatriation laws from around the world and find out.
There are two models all citizenship laws all around the world are based on: lex soli (law of the land) and lex sanguinis (law of the blood); the most common case being a mix of the two.
Basically what they say is:
1. Lex soli: anyone born within a country's territory is its citizen (e.g USA)
2. Lex sanguinis: any child of a citzen is its citizen. Sometimes further descendants may get citizenshp as well. This is the mode in most European countries.
Wikipedia articles about those, recommmended as a very educational read:
So, Israel's situation is far from unique, being some form of lex sanguinis, with the exception of the law of return (which, thinking about it, also falls under lex sanguinis, but it deserves to be addressed separately).
However, upon investigating the issue we find that the Law of Return is not that unique either and a lot of countries have repatriation laws allowing people of certain ethnicity to acquire their citizenship. Those include Greece, Japan, Finland, Germany, Serbia and others (see here and here and note the "criticism" section in the latter article).
Now let's compare what happens here to what happens to children of illegal immigrants in the United States (where, for the record those children are citizens by birth).
And here's a nice article: link (also, interestingly, there's a term for those children in the united states-- "anchor babies."-- see here)
Yup. Children may be given citizenship, but their parents are deported. Why? Because this is the law. If there was no law in the US that anyone born on its territory is automatically a citizen, those children would be deported too, and no one would have a problem with that (and in fact those anchor babies are a reason that the US consider changing their nationality law) .
What I'm trying to say is-- Israel has certain laws regarding citizenship. They aren't something out of the ordinary. To protest against the enforcement of those laws on the grounds that they are allegedly racist, as though Israel was the only racist country in the world, when in fact they're widespread around the rest of the world and no one criticizes countries other than Israel for being racist for having similar laws is ridiculous, to say the least.
And yes, I think that laws should be either enforced or changed if they are bad or cannot be enforced. But this particular law? There is no problem with it (except with the definition of who is a Jew, but as the illegal immigrants addressed in this paper are definitely not, this issue will not be addressed in this note). There is a problem with its enforcement.
And its enforcement should be way more strict than it is and that extending the foreign workers' residence permits is a wrong thing to do. The possession of and unrestricted usage of genitalia by some people is not a reason to allow illegal immigration.
The law may be bad, but as long as it exists, it should be enforced. This is what laws are for.