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If Israel lets ex-pats vote, what's to stop enfranchising all Jews?
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz Correspondent
What rejoicing in America! How delighted they will be - Abe (formerly Avraham), Joe (formerly Yossi) and Sam (formerly Shmulik). From now on, they will be able to vote from afar.
We'll have elections by text messages, governments chosen by remote control. We are legitimizing what used to be regarded as Israel's great sin - emigration.
The most right-wing government in Israel's history, which hunts down anyone who hasn't done military service and declares war on anyone who questions its whims, is now opening its legs to those whom until recently it regarded as traitors.
From now on, those who left Israel will be able to vote on its leadership. Tomorrow, maybe all the Jews in the world will do so. Anything to increase the support for the right-wing parties, anything to neutralize the "demographic threat."
If worst comes to worst, maybe we'll even let the Christian Evangelists - those friends of Israel - vote. Why make do with 5 million Israeli Jews? Let's add another million.
Much water has flown through the Hudson River since Yitzhak Rabin called the migrants "dropouts." Today we follow their success stories - whether real or imaginary - with envy. We read the stories about those who "made it" there, and every used car salesman on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio seems to have achieved the ultimate Israeli dream.
They come here once a year or two, stay at the Hilton and lecture us from the lobby to strike harder, to kill more, to deepen the occupation, to strengthen the settlements. It's easy to be nationalist in Manhattan.
Now they will be our partners. War and peace, territories and settlements, subsidized medicine and Avigdor Lieberman. All these issues will be in the hands of about 1 million old-new Israelis who left shamefacedly. They will vote for racism and war, while we will eat the rotten fruit.
Israel won't hear about a Palestinian right of return, and deprives all rights to every Palestinian who goes abroad, after his or her family lived here for generations. But it is opening its gates to people who haven't lived here for decades. Now they will vote with their acquired American accent.
Benjamin Netanyahu knows a thing or two about them personally. Most of his uncles and cousins on his father's side left Israel or were born to Israeli expatriates. Exemplary patriots.
Not all is clear yet. What about the ex-Israelis' children? Will they be able to vote, too? How about their grandchildren? Are Arab Israelis included?
All this does not matter. Netanyahu and Lieberman have broken a new record for cynicism. A singer who did not serve in the Israel Defense Forces isn't allowed to perform, left-wingers are seen as a traitors. But an Israeli who hasn't stood in a traffic jam here for 50 years will be able to vote. Lo how the Zionism of once has become today's cynicism.
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