"There must be legislation allowing Jewish people everywhere in the world to become Israeli citizens, even if they do not live here," asserted Rabbi Zalman Melamed on Sunday at a conference debating Torah-derived teachings as they pertain to minority issues in Israel.
Melamed is regarded as an influential authority in the Religious Zionism movement and currently serves as Beit El's chief rabbi.
Doing so, said Melamed, would strengthen the idea of Israel as the nation of all Jews while simultaneously shoring up the country's Jewish demographic in future elections.
However, he agreed, Jews who do not reside in Israel should not receive monetary benefits so long as they are also exempted from paying taxes and other national duties.
"Our ideal objective is for the land of Israel, on all its borders, to be filled with the people of Israel, as was promised to Abraham our father. For the country to operate in accordance with the Torah of Israel," said the rabbi, adding that Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union–National Religious Party) is already working towards legislating such a bill.
Biblical resident aliens
Melamed advocates stripping Israeli Arab's of their civil rights. "Even those with a democratic viewpoint understand that we must limit the rights of those who wish to harm the State. There are many non-Jews in Israel who are striving to undermine the country," he said at the conference.
"These people should not be able to vote who sits in the Knesset or determine who leads the country. The law must dictate that the subversive cannot be citizens."
In his opening statements the rabbi discussed the position of the adjudicators regarding non-Jewish residents under Jewish rule and asserted that in accordance with the Torah, anyone who recognizes Israel as a Jewish nation and pledges to adhere to the seven Noahide Laws should be conferred the status of 'Ger Toshav.' The term literally means 'resident alien' and was used to refer to gentiles living in Israel under during biblical times.
However, said the rabbi, in modern times Israel cannot do as it pleases and uphold democratic values and minority rights. "We can't be isolated from all other nations, be it politically, economically and scientifically, or when it comes to defense."
Israel, said Melamed, must strive to be a "light unto the gentiles" and not just adhere to the way of life dictated by the Torah. "To influence other nations you must communicate with them, you cannot be isolated."