For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
The State of Israel is a Jewish State. It is the state of all the Jews. Every Jew in the world should see Israel as his country - even if he does not yet physically live in Israel.
In most democracies, the right to vote is not contingent on actually living in the country in question, but rather on citizenship alone. Many Israelis who are also US citizens - even if they were not born in the US - vote in US elections. Israel's law that makes a citizen's right to vote contingent on his living in Israel deviates from the norm.
On the surface, this would seem like a positive way to strengthen the connection between Israeli citizens and their country. But just the opposite is true. The original Zionist platform called for the establishment of a new nation in Israel - the Israeli nation - to replace the Jewish nation. Azmi Bashara is an Israeli, while a Jew in London who would like to be an Israeli citizen while remaining in the Diaspora in the meantime - is not.
To grant Israeli citizenship to every Jew who requests it turns Judaism into the Israeli nationality. The founding fathers of Zionism wanted to cut the connection between the two. They preferred to leave the Jewish nation to die, either physically or spiritually, in the exile - to relegate Judaism to the status of religion and nothing more - and to establish a new nation here in the Land of Israel.
In the words of pioneer author and Zionist thinker, Chaim Hazaz:
Zionism and Judaism are not one thing, but two things, different from each other, two things that contradict each other. When a person cannot be a Jew, he becomes a Zionist. Zionism begins at the place where Judaism is destroyed, from the place that the strength of the nation is sapped. Zionism is not a continuation, not a panacea for the blow. That is ridiculous! It is uprooting and destruction, the opposite of what was, the end. I believe that the Land of Israel is no longer Judaism. (The pioneer in Hazaz's book, "Hadrasha")
The generation of Hazaz attempted to turn the gates of the Land of Israel into the gates of the new Israeli nation. That is why today, a Jew cannot be Israeli unless he lives in Israel.
And what about the Israeli expatriates who have "descended" and live in the Diaspora? While giving voting rights to Jews in the Diaspora is complex and would require intricate legislation and minimal criteria of connection with the Jewish nation and the State of Israel, there is no excuse for not allowing expatriates to vote. The reason why they are excommunicated from Israel is because Israeli citizens who leave Israel are proof that the New Nation Project of Zionism's "founding fathers" was a dismal failure.
Why should a Jew who doesn't live in Israel have voting rights here? Because Israel is the Jewish State. As such, it is the state of the Jews outside of Israel just as much as it is the state of the commander of the most elite IDF unit.
True, the Jews in the Diaspora have forgotten that Israel is their real home. But when we established a state for Israelis instead of for Jews, we showed the world that we have also forgotten. It is our duty to change this situation. With G-d's help, we will propose legislation that will allow expatriates - and eventually Diaspora Jews - to vote in Israeli embassies throughout the world.
As a Jewish state that is secure in its eternal existence on the basis of G-d's promise to Abraham, we must give the Diaspora Jews the opportunity to connect to Israel, to care about what is transpiring here, to feel that they belong and to vote. It will be an excellent reminder that their homeland is Israel and encourage aliyah. Not only that, but it will be much more effective than all the excommunication methods that we have used until now to try to stop expatriates from leaving our Land. .
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"