How to allow all the Jews to vote about Israel

In the United States presidential elections, the popular vote means the total number or percentage of votes received by any of nominees. It does not determine who will be the next President of the United States. For that, there is the Electoral College. In Israel’s general elections, only Israeli citizens who live, or are at least are present in the country on Election Day, can vote. There are some exceptions, like citizens who are abroad while working for the state, such as in the foreign ministry, but they are few and far between. In the past, Israel debated whether or not to give Israeli citizens who live outside of Israel on a short-term basis the right to vote, but ultimately, the debate was not resolved, and the law remained unchanged.

In the United States, votes in the electoral college determine the presidential election, sense there is a need to gain only a majority of the votes in each state. The rest of the votes in each state are not actually important. In Israel all the votes are taken into account, regardless of their source in the country. Some people in the United States wants that the popular vote will replace the Electrical College. But the popular vote stays as a kind of symbolic indicator of who most of the people wanted to have as president.

Israel might try to copy from the United States, in its own way. Israel could have a popular vote in which all the Israelis who are outside the country can vote, and maybe also all the Jews in the world can participate. Most of the Jews outside Israel don’t have Israeli citizenship, but after all, Israel is the state of the Jewish people. Therefore, all the Jews have a certain right to express their opinion, by voting. There could also be two kinds of popular votes for those who are outside Israel- one for those who have citizenship, and one for those who don’t.

One of the main reasons why those outside Israel can’t vote is to prevent them from making decisions for those who actually live in Israel, particularly in highly sensitive areas like national security. However, to begin with Israel’s popular vote will be a symbolic act, with no practical implications, so there is no risk of it having a negative effect on Israel.

Having a popular vote can still have some meaning because it will show the political views of Jews around the world. Furthermore in order to convince Jews to take this vote seriously it will be officially run and supervised by Israel and it will take place in the same day of the general elections in Israel. The results of Israel’s popular vote will be published as soon as possible, even on the same day. The votes will be called according to the states where the Jews live.

Israel’s popular vote can help the Jews who are outside Israel to feel as though they are a part of the state of Israel. Even if they never lived or even visited Israel, and don’t plan to do that in the future, it is necessary for them to have some contact with the Jewish state. One of the ways to achieve that could be to allow and actually urge them to express their voice, on Election Day, by participating in Israel’s popular vote.

About the Author
Dr. Ehud Eilam has been dealing and studying Israel’s national security for more than 25 years. He served in the Israeli military and later on he worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defense. He is now a writer and an independent researcher. He has a Ph.D and he had published five books He lives now near Boston, MA. His email: