Wednesday, July 27, 2005

When I saw the heading of this article I thought it dealt with the electoral power of the Russian-speaking community in Israel. Then I started reading it, realizing that it says 'emigrants' not 'immigrants', and that the article is about proposals to introduce absentee votes in Israel's political system. While I do use my rights as a Dutch citizen by voting for the national and European elections, I am uncomfortable with it, and I am not sure if the right to vote should not be abolished for people willingly living outside their country. In the Israeli case I think there is no room whatsoever for allowing expatriates-by-choice to vote. Almost every political decision here has 'physical' consequences, not in the least because - apart from some parts of the orthodox and non-Jewish populations in the country - most Israelis have to spend two or three years of their lives in the army, and male citizens and residents are obliged to perform several weeks of reserve duty each year. It is easy to support the idea of Greater Israel ( or far-reaching compromises with the Palestinians ) and to preach Zionism from New Jersey, Paris, Sydney or elsewhere, but fateful decions regarding the only Jewish state in the world should remain in the hands of those who choose to live in that state.

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