The Right to Leave a Country Includes One’s Right to Return

  • “Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own and to return to his country.”
  • Israel is one of the countries which requires passing border control upon leaving the country.
  • The success of the State of Israel depends upon being part of the world and accepting international law.

Nations have borders, which are protected by their military. Immigration is limited. According to International law, no one is forced to live in a nation against their will.  The borders are open to leave and return, but not to foreigners to come in. The right to leave a state is not only to citizens but also to foreigners according to international law.

Pharaoh, the King of Egypt in Exodus 5, prevented the Jewish people from leaving his nation. Moses went to Pharaoh and requested, “let my people go.” Through the hand of Moses, and only after ten plagues, did Pharaoh allow the children of Israel to leave Egypt on Passover Night. Nations once existed with laws of illegal exit, like in the times of Pharaoh and Egypt. Times have changed.

The starting place in respect to the right to leave a country is Article 13.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own and to return to his country.”  The state must issue travel documents, particularly a passport.

When entering the United States, passports are checked thoroughly, and people are questioned about their reasons for entering the country. There is free exit from America. This is true for almost all countries.  When leaving a plane or ship, it is necessary to pass border control. There are still countries with closed borders.

Israel is one of the countries which requires passing border control upon leaving the country. The border control will check in a computer if the person who is leaving their country is escaping a legal issue which requires him to remain in Israel. A woman in the middle of divorce proceedings has the right to ask the court to prevent her husband from leaving the country. People who are involved in lawsuits may be restricted from leaving Israel according to the court’s discretion.

There is no such thing as escaping Israel to go to live in another country unless your records are clean. Israelis enjoy the privilege and freedom to leave Israel. It is estimated that 750,000 Israelis are living abroad. Under the law they have the right to return. Danial Zamir, a jazz musician, left Israel twenty years ago with an intention never to come back. Today he has returned to Israel and is the only Orthodox Jazz musician in Israel.

Entering a country may be difficult but leaving a country, according to international law, is everyone’s right. The way that countries get around this is by taking away the passport of a criminal in the middle of trial. For example, in Singapore, you may be required to surrender your passport to the police for two reasons: the police have reasonable grounds that you have committed an offense, or if you have been charged with an offense and wish to be released on bail.

People who have escaped from their country may request asylum to enter another country according to international law. Nations are encouraged to abide by international law regarding emigration. Not all nations abide by International law., however In a country like Iran, “illegal exit” exists.

Natan Sharansky is an Israeli politician, human rights activist and author who, as a refusenik in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, spent nine years in Soviet prisons. He served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency from June 2009 to August 2018.

Jews wanted to leave the Soviet Union and were prevented by the authorities. In the Soviet Union, the borders were closed for exit. Those who wanted to leave the Soviet Union needed special permission. The borders were only opened through political pull. In 1950, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, was allowed to leave the Soviet Union for America after being imprisoned for spreading Judaism. Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician and human rights activist, was a refusenik who spent nine years in prison in the 1970’s. He was released and allowed to come to Israel.

An American Jew is allowed dual citizenship when he lives in Israel. Russian Jews, and Jews that come to Israel from many other countries, surrender their citizenship. Iran is an offender with closed borders, as are many other Islamic nations. Israel is also an offender, which closes its borders during divorce proceedings, with the fear that the husband may run away and leave his wife an agunah, alone without being able to marry again.

Israel has not been able to make a government after two elections, and another election is scheduled in March. The nation is having difficulty reconciling its religious culture, based on Jewish law, with international law.  According to Jewish law, a Jew living in Israel must prove his purpose in leaving the country is proper.  There are three reasons, according to Jewish law, that give a Jew permission to leave Israel, which are to take a wife, to rescue another Jew, and to learn Torah.  Some also say that for livelihood, when economic conditions are difficult.

The permission to leave Israel is on the condition that your intention is to return to the land.  Living in Israel is part of the Jewish religion. Today, living in Israel, according to most authorities is not an obligation. Many religious Jews for generations have lived outside Israel. According to Jewish law, when a Jew owns land in Israel, he is not allowed to sell the property to a gentile.

Israel has become a democratic state. A democratic state is founded on the principles of freedom and liberty. International law has changed to allow people the freedom to exit from their country. Iran and other Islamic nations deny their citizens free exit. According to the Koran, a Muslim is not allowed to change his faith.  Changing one’s faith from Islam is punishable by death.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, under Mohamed Morsi, would not allow schools to be established according to Baha”i faith. The Baha’i faith is attractive to Muslims because it allows Muslims freedom, which the Koran prohibits. Likewise, Progressive Jewish Spirituality gives Jews free choice and advises Jews to respect their heritage, while Judaism under strict religious observance demands Jews to observe the laws of the Torah without giving free choice.

Avigdor Lieberman is a Soviet-born Israeli politician who served as the Defense Minister of Israel.  He served as Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2012, and again from 2013 to 2015. He has also served as member of the Knesset and as Deputy Prime Minister of Israel.

The fact that Israel, in some cases, has closed borders and illegal exit is an indication that the nation has not or cannot completely accept democracy.  Benny Gantz is representing the side of politics demanding complete acceptance of democracy. Benjamin Netanyahu aligned with the religious parties, and cannot remain in power without the support of religious parties like Shas, United Torah Judaism, and the Union of Right-Wing Parties.

The success of the State of Israel depends upon being part of the world and accepting international law. It needs the support of America and Russia.  Judaism is the foundation of the nation, but today religion is accepted with and without free choice. Once leaving Israel was almost completely restricted and there was no free choice to observe or not. Desecration of the laws of the Torah, like Sabbath, was punishable by death.

Today there is a controversy over allowing bus transportation on Sabbath. In the middle of these controversies is Avigdor Lieberman, who has already caused Israel to go into its third election of the year. He had the choice to accept Netanyahu and his religious supporters but refused. He also would not accept a government with a strong Arab influence. To make a government will require Likud deserting its religious supporters.

Israel needs strict religious Jews as part of their culture but not necessarily in politics. The State of Israel as a democracy threatens Iran, which has changed over to a theocratic Islamic state. They claim that they are not against Jews.  They are against democracy in the Middle East. US President Donald Trump is for democracy in the Middle East. The opponents of Trump should also be for Israel and democracy in the Middle East, but instead desire political power to overthrow Trump any way that is possible, even at the expense of Israel.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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