Come home, be professional: Ethno-nationalism and economic rationalism in Israel's return migration strategy

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Abstract

The current article examines Israel's return migration strategy since its early days of statehood. Through a critical analysis of incentive-based programmes geared towards Israeli emigrants it argues that despite an explicitly ethno-national discourse to justify repatriation, state-sponsored initiatives have been economically motivated, targeting as such a segmented group of highly skilled emigrants. The strategy's inherent tension between the broad appeal reflected in the ethno-national call for emigrants to return ('Israel encourages all Israeli Jews to return home'), and the selective focus on narrowly-defined groups of emigrants based on their expected contribution to the national economy ('Israel needs talented and highly skilled individuals') is discussed. Focusing on the political debate around return migration from the 1950s through to the present, the essay illustrates the strategy's constant oscillation between broad ethno-nationalism and particular (neo-liberal) economic rationalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalImmigrants and Minorities
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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