Symbolism and Policy: Reading the ben-gurion-blaustein "exchange" in relation to citizenship laws in the United States

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Abstract

Scholars usually analyze the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein "Exchange" in the context of the Jewish world. Both David Ben-Gurion and Jacob Blaustein presented views that would enable non-Zionist Jewish Americans to support the Jewish state. In particular, they dealt with the fear of being accused of dual loyalty. Following my analysis of the later correspondence between Blaustein and Israeli leaders, and a re-reading of the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein "Exchange" itself, I shall argue that this event is related to and influenced by US citizenship laws. During the 1950s, the United States forbade dual citizenship or the performing of acts that might signify divided or multiple national identities. Revoking American citizenship was a common policy intended to prevent such duality. "Dual loyalty" had both a symbolic and a legal dimension. Therefore, the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein "Exchange" should also be understood as an attempt to prevent Americans from breaking their own laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalIsrael Studies
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020

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