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Michael Kagan

Michael Kagan

Michael Kagan (B.A. Northwestern 1997; J.D. Michigan 2000) was an instructor at Tel Aviv University Buchmann Faculty of Law from 2004 to 2006. He is now Senior International Human Rights Law Fellow at the American University in Cairo


After 57 years, the State of Israel is thinking about coming up with a comprehensive immigration policy.

The emergence of immigration reform on the political agenda this summer took some by surprise because Israel’s migration policies have always been clear on two points. First, Israel refuses to let the Palestinian refugees that it expelled return to their homes. Second, Israel encourages Jews of all nationalities to become Israeli citizens through its Law of Return. This basic arrangement – an open door to Jews, and a closed door to nearly everyone else – is not likely to change soon.

In this working paper, refugee law expert Michael Kagan develops the idea of conflicting rights as a means of addressing Israeli objections to Palestinian refugee return. Rather than explore Palestinian arguments for the right of return, this paper starts from the assumption that the right of return exists and must be accepted by Israel in order to reach a just peace that complies with international law.

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