Since the 1990s, dozens of countries changed their laws to permit multiple citizenship. Numerous European Union (EU) countries – including Spain, Italy, Hungary, Poland and Romania – adopted laws that invite co-ethnics, emigrants and their descendants to reacquire citizenship from abroad. Millions of persons in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Israel have taken advantage of this new opportunity and applied for a second, EU citizenship. I analyze this phenomenon on the basis of statistical data and material from interviews with dual citizens. I find that seekers of ancestry-based dual citizenship typically do not emigrate to their “new” countries; instead, they obtain “compensatory citizenship” that provides them with broader opportunities, greater travel freedom, an insurance policy and even a status symbol. This phenomenon reflects the diffusion of an instrumental attitude that treats national citizenship as a form of private property and uses it to secure global advantages.
This paper utilises three case studies to focus on various modes of the Jewish past in constructing citizenship regimes. The first part will explore how secondary EU law has been appropriating Holocaust and other episodes of Jewish history in shaping the narrative of EU citizenship, fundamental rights, anti-discrimination and the rule of law. The second part will scrutinize granting citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews, particularly in Portugal and Spain. The third part will focus on the Israeli aliyah (עֲלִיָּה), namely various aspects of the immigration politics in Israel centred on the 1950 Law of Return. The case studies reveal how citizenship has been an element of memory politics, while misfortunes of the past have – ironically – become embedded into citizenship. Hence, Jewish history provides a vivid clue for the edifice of citizenship in Europe and the mobile transnational pan-European ‘Jew’ in many ways remains the idyllic prototype of EU citizens.
Professor Aaron Seidenberg was born in 1943, in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a citizen of Poland, even though his Polish homeland was in ruins, under German occupation. Saved by a Polish family and miraculously reunited with his mother, an Auschwitz Death March survivor, he emigrated to Israel. For more than 15 years, Professor Seidenberg has been unsuccessfully attempting to regain his Polish citizenship, being confronted with numerous obstacles, both legal and political. The proposed paper analyses the official (and “backstage”) reasons for refusing many Holocaust survivors their right to have their Polish citizenship confirmed. It attempts to argue that this policy of refusals should be reversed as the tragic heritage of Jewish presence in Poland must prevail over administrative restrictions. The paper also raises the question of the role of memory and the past in shaping national laws which impact the rights of those who lived through the unimaginable crime of the Holocaust.