Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | January 30, 2008

Let them vote with their feet first…

As an American citizen, I have every right to vote in the US elections. However, because I chose to live in Israel, I prefer to sit back and watch the campaigns unravel unfold from afar without taking part. As an American living abroad, I believe that it’s not my place to try to influence the outcome, given that my agenda as an expat doesn’t necessarily gel with the needs of those actually living there, who are far more dependent on the domestic agenda than I. I realize that many Americans living here in Israel feel differently, but personally, I just don’t feel that it’s my place to take part simply because I retain my citizenship.

Given my stance on this issue, I find it nothing short of absurd that Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, believes that “Israel should grant all of world Jewry the right to vote even on political issues”. According to this Haaretz article, Kantor goes on to say that “Israel’s leadership should recognize that all the Jews in the world have the right to vote in Israel elections. If anyone with at least one Jewish grandfather or grandmother has the right to make Aliyah within the framework of the Law of Return, then we (we? perhaps he’s referring to the royal “we”, given that he is European, and not Israeli) need to grant them equal rights.”

Excuse me? Israel should allow people who aren’t even citizens the right to vote in Israeli elections? That has got to be one of the more asinine comments I’ve heard in a long time (which says quite a lot, given the “hell no, we won’t go” attitude emanating from the Prime Minister’s Office in light of today’s publication of the long-awaited Winograd Report, not to mention the resulting media circus that has been counting down the days like a child counts the days until Christmas). The last time I checked, the vast majority of the world’s Jews were not living in Israel, nor are they planning to make the big move any time soon. Most of them have never even been here, and in many cases, their connections to Israel are weak at best. They do not pay taxes here, they don’t have to deal with the day-to-day stress of living here. They do not risk their lives in our army, and should they be given the right to vote here, they will not have to live with the consequences of their votes.

Truly, I have nothing against the Jewish people living in the Diaspora. That is the point, though. They. Are. Living. In. The. Diaspora. Life is hard enough and crazy enough here without people whose agendas are different from ours pulling the strings from abroad, leaving us to dance alone. I don’t have the patience to pay the price when “well-meaning” Diaspora Jews try to create facts on the ground here, leaving us to deal with the aftermath of their folly, their support of an Israel that exists only in their minds, an Israel that does not exist in the reality that is life here. I do not wish to have a political agenda dictated to me by outside forces, by Diaspora Jews who continue to live in comfort and safety abroad as they vote for my future. Let them vote with their feet first. Let them make their own lives here, before they decide how mine should look.


  1. Absolutely spot on, Liza. I agree with every word you’ve written.

    In Israel so many political decisions have dramatic consequences affecting the lives and security of its citizens. The Second Lebanon War is a clear example of that. No one living outside Israel has the right to vote in Israeli elections if they are not going to directly bear the brunt of that vote.

    If it is that important to Diaspora Jews, let them come and live in Israel.

  2. You know I agree.

    The Beatles movie “Help” is on TV, got to go!!

  3. “Everybody wants to rule the world” as sang by Tears for Fears.

    Everyone wants to have as much influence as he can I guess, besides you Liza… ;). Seems like a builtin feature of human race. So one can make up any “logical” excuse for having their “right to vote” etc.

  4. Amen sister.

    I always felt, nay knew, that until i paid taxes in this country in order to facilitate the government and day to day running of it, i had no right to have any kind of an official say in who was elected to perform those duties.

    Jeff Dunham had the right phrase for this guy. And you know which one i mean. “Silence….!” (etc)

  5. so, you don’t even do a big November absentee ballot every four years? I don’t miss a presidential election, living there or not…

    What do you think about Israeli citizens living abroad and their right to vote in Israeli elections? just curious! 🙂

  6. Fay: Thanks for the vote of confidence. As a former diaspora Jew, I can understand the feelings that these people have for Israel, but I think it’s carrying things too far when they take that support and try to use it in order to wield influence. If they aren’t prepared to actually live here, then they don’t deserve to try to shape the country politically.

    Lisoosh: You get the same response, plus a bit of jealousy! I want to watch “Help!” too!

    Arik: You’re right, but that still doesn’t make it right. You don’t see Catholics around the world trying to shape the political scene in Italy.

    Trollmamma: Good evening… Infidel… 😉

    nrg: Nope. I don’t do the absentee ballot every four years. I may have done it once in the early years, but that’s it, and I’m not even sure I did it.

    As for the question of Israeli citizens living abroad and voting here, it depends on what they’re doing abroad. If they’ve gone abroad for a few years as a government or organizational representative, then yes, they should be allowed to vote. They’re officially representing the country abroad. Same with Israeli students in foreign universities. Israelis who have relocated for whatever reason though, and are living somewhere else shouldn’t vote. They’ve chosen to live elsewhere, and their priorities are different. Even if they would vote the way that I do, I don’t think that they should.

  7. I agree with you 100%, both in respect to absentee voting in the US elections and in respect to Diaspora Jews (which in my mind, includes ex-pat Israelis) voting in the Israeli elections.

    I am glad to see that I am not the only one who feels this way about the US elections. Actually, it is my views on Diaspora Jewry voting in Israeli elections which changed my views on whether I should be voting in the US elections. If I do not believe that people not living here should have a say in selecting the government, well, what right do I have to influence the US government? Yes, I do have opinions about what the US should or should not do, but frankly, the choice belongs to those who are footing the bill. And that ain’t me.


    PS–oh–glad you enjoyed my post! I crack myself up, but always worry that my mind is hopelessly twisted and that everyone else is reading my stuff and going away hideously depressed.

  8. How nice to share that same sentiment. I was less polite, if I remember that post correctly, though 😉

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