Monday, March 09, 2015

Let Them Vote

Ballots for elections "made in Samaria."
Ballots for elections "made in Samaria."
Israeli students abroad are requesting the right to vote in Israel’s upcoming election. They are absolutely right. There is no reason why a U.S. or Australian citizen can participate in elections in his country from any embassy in the world, while an Israeli citizen must be physically present in his country to vote.

Moreover, I believe that any Jew who ties his fate to the State of Israel and publicly acknowledges doing so should also have the right to vote in Israel’s elections – even if he has not yet made aliyah to Israel.

This has nothing to do with the demographic problem (if such a problem even exists), and I have no idea if Jews abroad would vote left or right. At stake is a much more essential issue. The stipulation that Israeli citizenship and voting rights depend on a person living here – in the Homeland – stems from the desire to prove that we are an indigenous nation, as per Israel’s Declaration of Independence: “In the Land of Israel, the Jewish Nation arose.”

But this is a total distortion. We were created abroad, we created most of our cultural treasures abroad, and our rights to the Land are basically because of the future – much less because of the past. But we want to be normal – a nation like all other nations – and to create an indigenous Israeli nation to replace the destiny-driven Jewish nation.

Israeli students abroad pay the price for this. We are very strict about it: Only the “indigenous” in the Land of Israel may vote. Give Jews abroad the right to vote? What are you talking about?

True, Israel is called “the Jewish state.” But it actually is “the Israeli state.” A new, different nation has been born.

Many people ask: But Jews abroad don’t serve in the army. Why should they vote if they do not bear responsibility for their choice?

But what about the Arabs? And the ultra-Orthodox? And all the draft evaders? Why do they get to vote?

I always call upon all Jews to ascend to the Land of Israel. But the question of voters’ “contribution” to the state is irrelevant. I know Jews abroad who contribute more to Israel than many of its citizens. The real question is “Are we a Jewish State?” with all that implies – a state that belongs to all the Jews? If the answer is yes, let the students vote. 

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