Monday, 9 March 2015

Let Israeli Expatriates Vote Abroad

With the elections in Israel just a week away, I am reminded of the shameful fact that my father, who was born and raised in Israel, cannot vote in the upcoming elections unless he is willing to hop a plane back to the old country so that he can cast a ballot on election day.  I have always believed it to be unfair that Israelis who have lived and worked in the country, paid Israeli taxes, and most importantly have done military service don't get the chance to vote in national elections unless they are willing to make the long trip back home just to vote. 

As I said, my father was born and raised in Israel.  He went to school in Israel, he worked in Israel, he paid taxes in Israel, and like every good Israeli patriot, he did his compulsory military service as well as reserve service.  Heck, he fought three wars for his country and to this day has shrapnel in his hand from the 1973 war, yet his country doesn't even have the decency to allow him to vote to choose the nation's leaders while living abroad.  And what's even dumber?  The fact that if I were willing to hop on a plane to Israel for election day, I would be able to cast a ballot because I have inherited Israeli citizenship from my father.  This despite the fact that I have never lived or worked in the country for an extended period of time, nor have I done military service.  Does this sound stupid to anyone else?

I sincerely hope that the next government Israelis vote into office has the decency to change this situation.  For starters, allow Israelis living abroad to cast ballots at their nearest embassies or consulates, or even through the mail as is done in many other democratic countries including Canada, where I live.  But don't allow just any person with Israeli citizenship to vote abroad, because that would mean extending voting privileges to people like myself who have never lived or worked in Israel or paid Israeli taxes.  Instead, allow only those Israelis who have lived in the country for an extended amount of time, say five or more years, to cast ballots abroad.  In any case, make it so that people like my father, who risked his life for his country, can exercise their right to vote without having to travel thousands of kilometers just to be there and cast a ballot on election day. 

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