New German Citizenship Rule Demands Recognition of Israel's Right to Exist

Under changes made by the German government to the country’s citizenship laws, people applying for naturalization would no longer need to give up their previous citizenship and could obtain it faster, but those applying for naturalization would be required to affirm Israel’s right to exist.

CNN: Germany demands new citizens accept Israel’s right to exist

There goes their immigration problem.

— Open Source Intel (@Osint613) June 27, 2024

This controversial new measure, along with other changes, was part of a larger overhaul of German citizenship law as Berlin grapples with rising antisemitism fueled by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas and the far-right’s surging popularity in Germany and other places in Europe.

Germany’s interior ministry said in a statement that the country's naturalization exam will include several new questions.

In response to increasing antisemitism in Germany, the list of questions in the naturalization test has been expanded. New exam questions have been added on the topics of antisemitism, the right of the state of Israel to exist, and Jewish life in Germany,” the interior ministry said.

The German weekly publication Spiegel said in March that prospective applicants for German citizenship would also be asked about the year Israel was founded and Germany’s obligation to the country, along with punishments for Holocaust denial, the term for the Jewish place of worship, and membership requirements for Jewish sports clubs.

Wait until they find out my stance and I already got a passport.

— ecléctica (@xtinamagwaza) December 5, 2023

The legislation was introduced after the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt also required those applying for citizenship to recognize Israel’s right to exist last December. Last year, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) advocated for the passage of such a law at a federal level. However, other political parties in Germany’s federal parliament, or Bundestag, also well-received the idea.

Under the sweeping reforms made to Germany’s citizenship laws, which took place on June 27th, the process of obtaining citizenship has been sped up. Those who have been well integrated into Germany and are considered “well integrated” can now obtain citizenship after five years instead of eight. Applicants will also no longer be required to give up citizenship in their previous country, something that used to be a requirement in Germany for first-generation immigrants. 

Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has welcomed the vast changes to the country’s citizenship laws, describing them as a “commitment to a modern Germany.

Do they have to deny genocide too?

— MM (@MarcMor59172491) June 27, 2024

Whoever shares our values and makes an effort can now get a German passport more quickly and are not required to give up a part of their identity with the former citizenship,” she said. 

We have also made it just as clear: Whoever doesn’t share our values will not be able to get a German passport. Here, we have drawn a crystal clear red line and made the law much stronger than before. Anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of contempt for humanity rule out naturalization. There is no tolerance for that.” the interior minister added. 

The war in Gaza, which has left over 37,700 dead and more than 86,000 wounded, and Berlin’s solid and unwavering support for Israel have fueled a passionate debate in Germany. In the aftermath of the October 7 attacks by Hamas that killed 1,200 Israelis, German lawmakers, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, reiterated that Israel’s security and existence is Germany’s “reason of state,” or matter of national interest. 

But others in the country accuse the German government of going too far, adding that the Holocaust does not justify Berlin’s unconditional support for Israel and claiming that the government’s actions infringe on the rights of pro-Palestinian protesters to freedom of speech and assembly.

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