Monday, September 20, 2004

None of My Business

Musings #70
September 20, 2004
The 5th of Tishrei

None of My Business

Even though I’m an American citizen, born in Brooklyn to parents, also, born in Brooklyn, I’ve never voted in American elections, and I have no plans to ever do so.

When I made aliyah, a few decades ago, the minimum age for voting in American elections was twenty-one, and I had just celebrated that birthday (and got married, too.) It was still summer when we boarded the boat, a few months before election day.

Recently, as the next American presidential elections have been “heating up,” there have been all sorts of notices being cyber-distributed urging all American citizens to take advantage of their legal right and vote in the elections. Some include dire warnings that Kerry’s a danger to Israel, while other claim that Bush is the danger, and others, non-partisan, say: “Just vote.”

Some American Israelis say that since we’re taxed, we must vote. Even that isn’t so simple, since very few of us, American Israelis, make the sort of income that is taxed from abroad, and we renew our American passports without any problems. Yes, I still hold an American passport, and when necessary I use it, and we registered all of our children, and they, too have American passports. I don’t see any contradiction in this; there is no law requiring Americans to vote. A sizable percentage of resident American citizens don’t vote, and they’re not breaking any law. Not voting is not a rejection of citizenship. Neither American Law, nor Israeli Law forbids dual citizenship.

My primary citizenship is Israeli, and I don’t feel a moral right to interfere with or influence American life. I don’t live in America and haven’t for over thirty years. In the same vein, I don’t think that those not living in Israel have any rights to interfere or influence Israeli life, and that includes politics. In addition, the top priority of American politicians should be what’s best for America, and therefore, any promises made concerning Israel are suspect. Even with the best of intentions, their job is to promote America and not Israel. We have enough trouble trusting our own politicians, who should be thinking: Israel first, not wondering what will please a bunch of foreigners.

America is not Israel’s savior. It doesn’t even treat us as a trusted and respected friend. The “financial aid” America gives Israel is nothing more than coupons to support/subsidize American industry, in the process weakening our own struggling economy. Even the so-called support for Israel’s establishment wasn’t simple. The story of Truman’s old Jewish friend struggling to get an appointment to beg (shades of Esther and Achashverosh) for his promise of support is no secret. Don’t forget how Kissinger encouraged Nixon to delay delivering military supplies during our most difficult days of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when Israel’s survival was in doubt. America is not a trustworthy friend.

Whenever Israel does something to defend itself, America chastises us, telling us to do the Christian thing and turn the other cheek, even though they, themselves, have no compunctions when bombing those who may be supporting their enemies.

Jay Pollard wasn’t the only American defense employee* tempted to inform Israel of secret information it was supposed to have received according to various treaties. He is jailed in the most difficult of conditions for giving information to an ally, while enemy spies have been “lightly” punished or deported. Pollard’s punishment is without legal precedent and totally out of proportion to any other in American history.

The bottom line is that I don’t consider the American government my government. Any influence it may have on Israel comes from Israeli weakness. The Americans can only control us if we let them. I only vote in Israeli elections, and I search hard for candidates who are independent of foreign control.

Those Americans residing in America should vote, and Americans living abroad who feel that it’s important to vote, should vote, too. I am not writing this to convince anyone not to vote. I am just explaining why I’m not voting. If Americans elect a person of extremely, high moral character, it will be good for America and good for all the world, including Israel. The problem is finding a successful politician with that trait.

(*There are others who just didn’t inform Israel and therefore weren’t prosecuted and are unknown by the general public.)

Batya Medad, Shiloh

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