51% of Israelis believe Diaspora should be part of Law of Return debate

A survey has found that 51% of Israelis are concerned cancelling the "grandchild clause" will significantly reduce migration to Israel and more.

Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich discusses the Law of Return (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/YEHONATAN SAMIYEH)
Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich discusses the Law of Return
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/YEHONATAN SAMIYEH)

A new survey found that almost half of Israelis think that the diaspora Jewry should be part of the public debate on the Law of Return and 51% think that canceling the "grandchild clause" in the Law of Return is liable to significantly reduce immigration to Israel (50%).

The survey was conducted by Shlomit Ravitsky Tur-Paz, Director of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society and the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. 

Survey findings

When asked if representatives of diaspora Jewry should be included in Knesset discussions on the Law of Return, 46% agreed and 40% disagreed. Amongst the ultra-Orthodox, 55% are against and 37% support involvement. Among the national religious 50% support involvement of diaspora Jews in addition to 52% of secular Israelis.

44% agree that canceling the "grandchild clause" in the Law of Return is liable to damage the Zionist principle of absorbing immigration and gathering the exiles. 79% of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) also agree with the same claim. 

In addition, 51% of Israelis agree that canceling the "grandchild clause" in the Law of Return will significantly reduce immigration to Israel. Among those who voted for the parties that comprise the current coalition, 44% agree and 44% disagree that this will significantly reduce immigration to Israel. 70.1% of FSU voters agreed that this will damage the amount of olim.

 Dozens of Jewish leaders from across Europe met with President Isaac Herzog on January 16, 2023, sharing their concerns regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on a variety of issues, particularly the amendment of the Law of Return. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO) Dozens of Jewish leaders from across Europe met with President Isaac Herzog on January 16, 2023, sharing their concerns regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on a variety of issues, particularly the amendment of the Law of Return. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

50% of Israelis believe that the State of Israel should offer more lenient conversion solutions for Israelis who are not recognized as Jewish according to halacha. Among Jews, the support reaches 54% and among coalition voters only 33%. 66% of FSU olim agree that the State of Israel should offer more lenient conversion solutions for Israelis who are not recognized as Jewish according to halacha.  

Asked to what extent an Israeli would be disturbed if a male or female member of their family married someone who is not Jewish according to halacha but grew up in Israel, 98% of haredim would be disturbed if this would happen to a male family member, and 92% of National religious would also react the same way. On the contrary, 70% of secular Israelis said they wouldn't be disturbed if any of their family members married someone who wasn't Jewish but grew up in Israel. 

Attorney Ravitsky Tur-Paz stated: "A large portion of the Israeli public is very disturbed by the ease at which possible harm may be done to one of the central characteristics of Zionism, without a broad public discussion that includes representatives of Diaspora Jewry, and without also dealing with the question of easing the conversion process for those who are the 'seed of Israel.' The issue of those who ‘exploit’ immigration benefits will not be resolved through this proposed initiative and should instead be settled by amending the ‘passport law.’ This shows, once again, that huge gaps exist between various sectors regarding Israel’s Jewish identity and makes clear the need for intensive dialogue in an attempt to reach a broad agreement."