An Israeli, Even Though He Has Sinned, Is Still an Israeli?

Revoking Citizenship on Grounds of Disloyalty

Policy Paper No. 73

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  • Cover Type: Softcover
  • Number Of Pages: 138 Pages
  • Center: Defense of Democratic Values
  • Price: 45 NIS

This study discusses the idea of citizenship from a conceptual and legal perspective and examines the various democratic and non-democratic attitudes toward revoking citizenship on the grounds of disloyalty. Sections of this paper address the status of citizens under a bill of rights, as well as the role of the state as an association--or family--that is protected by a social contract. Finally, this paper analyzes the justifications for revoking citizenship, which are based primarily on the "defensive democracy" doctrine.

Should citizens who have acted disloyally to their state retain citizenship? In the words of U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren "citizenship is not a license that is invalidated on the basis of misbehavior." However, in Israel the Israeli Minister of Interior maintains the authority to revoke citizenship on the grounds of disloyalty. This situation poses a major challenge in a country that is fighting a war on terrorism. Some would like to see this particular power utilized to a greater extent, as an additional weapon in this battle.

What factors must be taken into consideration when ruling on issues related to the responsibility of citizens to their state? What is the relationship between citizen and state in modern times? Does a citizen have a duty to be loyal? What is the difference between loyalty, patriotism and citizenship? What risks are entailed in granting the government the power to revoke citizenship on the grounds of disloyalty-and does the situation in Israel pose a unique dilemma? This policy paper addresses these and other questions faced by Israel and other western nations.

This study discusses the idea of citizenship from a conceptual and legal perspective and examines the various democratic and non-democratic attitudes toward revoking citizenship on the grounds of disloyalty. Sections of this paper address the status of citizens under a bill of rights, as well as the role of the state as an association--or family--that is protected by a social contract. Finally, this paper analyzes the justifications for revoking citizenship, which are based primarily on the "defensive democracy" doctrine.

Drawing on the findings of this study, a new bill has been drafted to replace existing Israeli legislation concerning the revocation of citizenship.