Israeli Citizens Abroad Necessary For Growth of Israel
by Gad Nahshon
Israel is the only state which regards its citizens abroad as its stepchildren. Israel is the only country in the world which defines its people in a negative term "Yordim" just because they live abroad because of a million and one reasons. Israel is the only state in the world which does not try to develop, with its citizens abroad, lines of communications, set of linkages, bridges and measures of cooperation.
The country has created a mental/moral gap with the so called "Yordim" and their second generation. Israel is the only country which does not disseminate information in the country language of Hebrew. Israel is the only country which does not view its citizens abroad and their second generation as an international mine of resources. The "Yordim" is Israel's most important golden mine of resources. And Israel does not have natural resources. Israel's success means the "cult of the brain". And the Israeli brain is flourishing abroad. Furthermore, the Jewish nation is in a process of shrinking. There are only 12-13 million Jews. Around 4 million Jews live in Israel.
The new researchers demonstrate, clearly, that in the 21st century, we will find less and less Jews because of assimilation and because of the low rate of Jewish fertility. Demographically, one can be pessimistic as to the biological future of the Jewish nation. In Israel, the Jewish family is shrinking. The Muslim family is much more fertile than the Jewish one. In 2020, Israel will have a population of a million Israeli Arabs or around 20% of its total population. Arabs, today, do not hide their goal, establishing Israeli-Arab power or "Arab Vote." They tend to unite their forces rather than integrating themselves into the official political system. In the past, many Arabs voted even for the Likud and Bibi Netanyahu. This "paradise" is over. Arabs define themselves today as "Palestinians" with an Israeli identity card or passports. Their Arab identity and their commitment to Pan-Arabism will increase when the PLO establishes its state or independent autonomy.
The conclusion is that, demographically, Israel must link itself to the demographic resource abroad - 500,000 Israelis who live in North-America, Australia, France and other countries. Israel must develop a new positive approach to this issue. Israel needs more Jewish votes in order to preserve itself as a Jewish state. But when it comes to reality, the Israeli establishment suffers from mental retardedness and myopic behavior. Israel, still, excommunicated the 'Yordim.' How? Simple. The state ignores their existence. It is a fact. There is not budget for them.
There is no special agency in the government to deal with this 500,000 'Yordim.' No one is willing to find facts or data. No one is willing to produce a policy. The leaders are indifferent. Why? The Israeli leadership is still originated in the 19th century romantic Zionism, the East-Europeans style. The moral is, "If you leave Israel, you are a deserter from the battle, get lost!" In the Knesset they, the members, always tend to preach Zionism to the 'Yordim.' One can think that the 'Yordim' are a new tribe of monsters with horns. It is very hard to speak about them in a realistic positive, pragmatic way. The 'Yordim' are the scapegoats of the failure of Zionism in Israel. In the eyes of many Israelis, even Arabs who want to destroy Israel's Jewishness, its identity, are better, morally, than the 'Yordim.' Recently, the attitude of the leaders to the 'Yordim' has improved but their indifference is still the standard behavior.
Each country in America, lets say, the Austrian Consulates here, first of all, approach the Austrian citizens who live in America. It is a logical and natural thing to do. They are being mobilized to cooperate so that the Austrian message will be heard in America. Furthermore, it is only natural to let these citizens vote inside the Consulates. Why not? They have Austrian passports, don't they? Israeli society is over-Americanized. Israeli life is based on the dollar. People even say that Israel should ask to be the 51st state of the USA. Why not? In America, every citizen has the right to vote even abroad in the proper Consulate.
In 1996, around 20,000 Israelis voted in Israel in the last presidential election. These citizens who live abroad even have some kind of representation in the parties' national conventions. This is the highest expression of true democracy. The right to vote is cherished as a human right, per se. It does not matter if you live here or abroad. You carry your natural right to vote. All you need is a passport. Period. Well, Israel refuses to learn from the USA. Its citizens abroad still can not vote abroad in the Israeli proper Consulates! Let me explain to the reader about the character of the Israeli citizenship. According to the Israeli law, only the state can decide about your status. It tells you when you are its citizen. You can not decide to give up your citizenship just because you like to do it. The state is the one to decide to dismantle your status as a citizen. Therefore, you and your children who were born in Israel are Israeli citizens. But your children who were born abroad are also Israeli citizens. Even if only one spouse is an Israeli!!
Furthermore, when the children reach the age of 18 they, according to the law, must serve in the Israeli army or might be defined as military deserters, at least, in the army's computers. This is the law, but in reality, the Army is very flexible. Indeed, many Israelis were not even aware to the fact that they are citizens of Israel and must serve in the army. There were stories of second generation teenagers who were afraid to visit Israel because of the army issue. I must note that in the last decade, the Israeli army solved the problem and allows these children to visit and stay in Israel, although they must register with the Consulate and apply for an Israeli passport so they, legally, become Israeli citizens.
The conclusion is, if you regard these children as Israelis although they live abroad and they were born abroad, you must let them vote in the Consulates, that is the essence of the law, the essence of democracy. Of course, their parents would also have the right to vote in the Consulates. I would like to outline my motives for this change. 1. Israel must use any means in order to create a "national union" of its citizens abroad.
Israel must legitimize their status in the eyes of its establishment. Israel can not afford to give up this population abroad. It is a luxury for a country such as Israel, a country still fighting for its survival; 2. Israel must build a special apparatus called "Moledet-Liason Bureau". This agency will develop a pragmatic approach to this issue. Israel must dismantle its emotional, romantic approach to this issue. "Moledet" (homeland) will collect data, will learn the facts and the dynamics. It will develop the outreach projects for each target population, since among the Yordim there are subgroups.
For example, projects for the second generation. The Agency Moledet will also get many feedbacks; 3. My idea is to use the national election in an experimental way: lets give them a chance to vote in the Consulates and we will see the result. Of course, only the Israelis with a high degree of motivation will vote. Let's try and see!!; 4. I would like to point out another aspect. We live in the age of electronic democracy. It is clear that in the 21st century, we will vote from our cellphone or home computer. The vote will be free from any geographical element. You could vote from abroad, when you are just a visitor, or a tourist from Rome or San Francisco or from Tokyo.
You just have to find your name on the national list of voters which is published by the Israeli Minister of the Interior - period! The computer is blind. You should not lose your right to vote from abroad. No one cares if you are Yored or not. I must explain to the reader: "Yordim" is a journalistic Israeli term. It is an attempt to outlaw 500,000 Israelis, but there is no law which deals with Yordim. There are no laws against Yordim.
Israel is a democracy, the citizens have the right to leave. They enjoy freedom of movement. So the idea is to change the attitude of the Knesset to the Yordim. By the way, the irony is that those leaders on the right such as Raphael Eitan, Arik Sharon, Genny Alon, have a liberal open-minded approach to this issue and the liberals such as Yossi Sarid, have a very negative approach to the Yordim. They tend to follow the idea of the late Itshaq Rabin, who viewed the 'Yordim' as 'deserters from the battle' or 'weaklings'.
Well, it is time to liberate ourselves from this obsession or mental retardedness and find a new positive way. The idea of Yordim voting abroad is a new positive way for the right change. We must absorb the Yordim. We must find a way to preserve their Israeli identity. We must discuss this issue in the 21st century's terms and way of thinking. Today, the prestige of Israel is very low. Israel needs the Yordim. They are the best natural soldiers or pro-Israel lobby anywhere. Israel is still their 'Moledet'. Their families live in Israel. Their heart is still in Israel. When the Yordim are being asked about their identity, they say "We are Israelis first." But who knows how long they will answer in the same manner.
There is a melting pot in each country. And their second generation might view themselves only as a new ethnic group in America. Like the American Jews, they will say: "We are American first." Israel can not take anything for granted. It must allocate resources in order to challenge these problems of identity. From the strict legal point of view, Israel used some precedent allowing Israelis to vote in the Consulate. First, Israeli sailors were permitted to vote abroad. This was Israel's first precedent. The second came in 1998. The Knesset amended its law, Article 6, to allow Israel's diplomats and emissaries abroad to vote in the Consulates. This amendment discriminated against many other Israelis, such as Israeli students abroad, Israelis who represent abroad the many Israeli economic institutions, such as, Bank Leumi.
It is clear why Israel or the Knesset can ignore these Israelis who did not emigrate from the country. As I believe in Democracy, the right to vote has no linkage to the location. Israeli soldiers vote i their camps or posts. Even Israeli inmates have the right to vote. Furthermore, the Israeli law recognizes the right of Israelis to vote abroad. Israelis who live in the West Bank outside of the green line of 1967, have the right to vote. Only the Golan Heights, by a law of the Knesset, was annexed to Israel.
The settlers are voting but they live "abroad." The bottom line is that we live in a world or 'global village', a world of movements, changes, waves of investments, waves of people who are looking for employment or relocation. We are children of new a dynamic world. It is better for Israel to adjust itself to this hi-tech world and to the fact that it must link itself to its citizens abroad because it can not stop the modern trends of our globe.
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