Europe is becoming a safe haven for Israelis

Gideon Levy writes:

The numbers are climbing rapidly and the phenomenon is intriguing: Many Israelis are longing for a second passport. If Shimon Peres (now president ) once promised “a car for every worker,” a second passport is now becoming the object of desire. If our forefathers dreamt of an Israeli passport, there are those among us who are now dreaming of a foreign passport.

A Bar-Ilan University study published in the journal Eretz Acheret has found that roughly 100,000 Israelis already hold a German passport. Over the past decade, the trend has strengthened and some 7,000 more Israelis join them every year. To these should be added the thousands of Israelis who hold foreign passports, mostly European countries. The excuses are strange and diverse, but at the base of them all are unease and anxiety, both personal and national. The foreign passport has become an insurance policy against a rainy day. It turns out there are more and more Israelis who are thinking that day may eventually come.

In recent years the Israeli passport has become useful and effective. It opens the gates of most countries of the world, except for parts of the Arab and Muslim world. It is hard to believe that those applying for a second passport are doing so in order to vacation in Tehran, tour Benghazi or take in the sights of San’a. The alibi that a European passport makes entering the United States easier cannot fully explain the phenomenon, which has no equivalent in other developed countries.

It should not be condemned, though. It reflects a mood, a natural and understandable consequence of the real and imagined fears that have been sown here. When Avrum Burg boasted of his French passport several years ago, a public outcry arose, but in vain. Presumably some of those who cried out did so because they do not have the option, like he does, of obtaining an additional passport for themselves. The others may have since crowded onto the line at one embassy or another.

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4 thoughts on “Europe is becoming a safe haven for Israelis

  1. Dieter Heymann

    I am somewhat surprised by the large number of Israeli citizens that obtain a German passport hence German citizenship.
    Germany still has a unique “law of return” enacted during the chancellorship of Bismarck. I do not remember the actual details but I believe that any person who can claim at least one German grandparent has the privilege of “returning” to Germany. However, I believe that one condition is a truly physical return to Germany and the renouncement of any other citizenship. Are these 100,000 “German Israeli’s” actually living in Germany?

  2. Yonatan

    No, some of them live in Iran. That is how they travel back and forth to Israel. German passport for Iran-Germany and Israeli passport for Germany-Israel.

  3. Christopher Hoare

    Interesting idea, Yonatan, but it cannot account for all the European passports. Most of them must be wealthy travelers with connections and many business accounts to service.

    My own interpretation is that these European passports are metaphorically the guilty plea of the bank robbers’ getaway driver. When the owners of the bank arrive, the thieves will need a fast getaway.

  4. dickerson3870

    RE: “…roughly 100,000 Israelis already hold a German passport.” – Bar-Ilan Univ. study per Gideon Levy

    MY COMMENT: The Mossad recently demonstrated how easily an Israeli can obtain a German passport.
    SEE: A Pandora’s Box ~ Arrest of Suspected Mossad Agent Strains German-Israeli Relations, By Christoph Schult and Holger Stark, Der Speigel, o6/21/10

    (excerpts) The day the Mossad operation on German soil began was a clear, sunny Sunday in late March 2009. Alexander Verin, who holds an Israeli passport, had an appointment with an attorney in Cologne to discuss naturalization. Verin was accompanied by a man named Michael Bodenheimer, who claimed that he was an Israeli of German descent. Bodenheimer wanted to apply for a German passport, but Verin, who had made the appointment, was doing most of the talking.
    The two men explained that Bodenheimer’s father Hans had emigrated to Israel to escape Nazi persecution. As proof, the Israelis showed the attorney what they claimed was the parents’ marriage certificate, as well as a passport. In such cases, which number around 3,000 a year, Article 116 of Germany’s constitution provides for a relatively straightforward naturalization procedure.
    The two Israelis were staying in a Cologne hotel. Bodenheimer would later rent an apartment on a run-down street in Cologne’s Eigelstein neighborhood…
    …On June 16, 2009, the attorney submitted the naturalization application to a registry office in Cologne. A German passport was issued in the name of Michael Bodenheimer two days later. It looked like a routine procedure.
    But it was everything but routine when the passport was used in January in connection with the murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai
    …German officials in Berlin are outraged that the Mossad apparently obtained a genuine German passport under false pretenses that involved — of all things — a fake story of Nazi persecution

    ENTIRE ARTICLE –,1518,701826,00.html

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