Returning kings and soldiers often expect parades, but those days of celebration are few and far between, these days. The world that many of us inhabit is not so keen on returns of that kind. Most of the time thoughts turn to return on investments and returning to bed as soon as possible.
The law of return speaks of a different kind of return. It is not unique to modern Israel. Other nation states have similar initiatives on the books, though it is no less an important topic than occupation, neo-liberalism, racism, food, love, home, freedom, and security.
It is not a law of physics, it is not a law enshrined in any solidly papered constitution, and it has nothing to do with any (bankrupt) chain of video rental stores.
The law of return may have been an answer to fear or it may have been an open invitation to people looking for a home to build. Its stated intention probably depends on which member of Knesset you get a hold of. Some would tell you that Israel is a fortress and the gates are closing fast, so you better get in. Others would declare that it is a start-up nation, and you better get in on the ground floor. Still others would insist that it is a deeply flawed society, still an infant-nation-state, in need of good people to join in the building.
Still others would be sure that intentions matter not. The law of return is unjust they would say. They might say that the Palestinian refugees of 1948, should benefit from such a law as opposed to (or along with) the Jews of the world. Or they might say no one should get a free ride. Such a law is flawed at its core and nation-states are built by those within its borders, one might remark.
One could type in: Who are the Jews anyhow? Search results should turn up something such as: The Jewish people are made up of people who identify with Jewish culture and/or religion and/or have a familial/ethnic connection.
Already, all parties who have been discussing related issues have concluded that Israel is not atop any mountain, but perhaps at the centre of the Jewish people. It is a collective project in dire need of attention. Perhaps, just as the Jewish agency sends emissaries to communities around the world in order to spark movement toward Israel (as do their younger, privatized cousins), so too should the Jewish people send emissaries to Israel to spark movement within. The Jewish society is in need of messengers from Jewish communities abroad, with experience as minorities in their societies which can be as valuable as all the kings gold in attempting to rebuild democratic and egalitarian ideals. The irony is that many of those emissaries from the West might encourage the Jewish society to be made up of all of its citizens and listen less to the people without.
Should this law exist? Should such a law be put on hold, and set to waiting and watching for such a time as it is needed like an over protective parent watching over their teenager? Should Jewish immigration to the Jewish society, from Jewish communities around the world, be welcomed in order to fight the dark reality here and because the more people who show up with the intention of creating a lively and open society reflective of the best of Jewish cultural values such as justice, critical thinking, and solidarity with the oppressed the better? Should the law of return be cracked open and the code rewritten to include Palestinians who relatively recently lived here and (no matter the specific case) ought to be allowed back to their homes.
Can a dialogue arise and push us in the right direction?