(This post originally appeared on The Muqata. I had intended to post it here as well.)
Last week during a slow moment in shul a few of us began a discussion about voting rights for American Expats and whether American Jews should be allowed to vote in Israeli elections.
It was a very heated discussion and not just because of the fast. Here is a short synopsis of what went on.
Some people felt that if expats became citizens of other countries they simply should not be allowed to vote.
Others took a more nuanced approach and said that if an expat became a citizen of another country, was not paying taxes and lived more than 3/4s of the year outside of the U.S. then they should give up their right to vote.
Still another group maintained that unless you give up your American citizenship you should always retain all rights granted therein.
It is an interesting discussion to me for a variety of reasons. I am Pro-Israel and will always be concerned about Israel’s welfare, but at the moment I live in the U.S. So while I may make aliyah one day I have to look at the U.S. first and Israel second.
None of this negates my love for Israel and for all Jews. None of it means that I am not concerned about what happens to Jews. It just means that I think that the responsible thing to do, the moral thing to do and the Jewish thing to do is to vote according to where I live.
Now I should add that I do not trust any of the American political parties to look out for Israel’s best interest. I think that it is a mistake. Countries are not friends, they are allies. It is a different relationship. Allies require common and mutual interests and when those no longer coincide the relationship ends.
Let’s go back to the discussion regarding voting rights and cover the question of what role should American Jews be given in Israeli politics. Really we should say all Jews, but for this discussion we’ll keep it simple.
If we accept the premise that one should not be given a vote unless one is a citizen than the point is moot. But as one of the participants said it is not that far a leap to suggest that Jews be given a vote in Israeli politics.
Around the world there are sad examples of Jews who have been maimed or murdered supposedly because of Israeli politics so one could say that we all share risk based upon the actions of the government. Why shouldn’t we be given a say in what happens.
For myself I tend to lean towards saying that if you don’t live there you than you shouldn’t vote. Your interests and concerns are not the same as those who do live there.
What do you think?