Allowing Israelis abroad to vote is cynical and anti-democratic, a group of
intellectuals wrote in a letter sent on Sunday to President Shimon Peres, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Supreme Court
President Asher Dan Grunis and Knesset faction chairmen.
The letter was
written in protest of a new version of the “Omri Casspi Bill” that cabinet
secretary Zvi Hauser is considering. The bill would allow Israelis to vote in
their first four years abroad, after registering at a consulate and declaring
that they intend to return to Israel.
Authors Amos Oz and Yoram Kaniuk,
Jerusalem Cinematheque founder Lia Van Leer, Prof. Sammy Smooha, Prof. Ze’ev
Sternhal, former ministers Shulamit Aloni and Yair Saban, and others signed the
According to the letter, the Netanyahu government is reaching
“new heights of anti-democratic cynicism” with the new bill, which will “trample
Israeli democracy” and is meant to quell any opposition.
In addition, the
letter claims that such a bill would encourage Jews abroad to get Israeli
citizenship under the Law of Return, even if they do not really intend to live
The signatories expressed concern that voters from abroad will
decide whether or not a prime minister who will attack nuclear sites in Iran is
chosen, even though they will not suffer the consequences.
group of Jews from the Diaspora will determine from afar how Israelis will live
their lives,” the letter reads. “Netanyahu is already encouraging such an
influence through money, propaganda and free newspapers, and apparently as the
prime minister of AIPAC,” referring to pro-Israel lobby the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee.
“This idea is the end of Zionism,” the petition
Similar legislation was discussed by the government last year, and
was nicknamed the Omri Casspi Bill for the first Israeli to play in the
NBA. Casspi still lives abroad.
The coalition agreement between
the Likud and Israel Beiteinu requires that absentee voting be put to a
vote. However, Shas has threatened to take advantage of its coalition
agreement with the Likud, which gives every party in the coalition a veto on
bills that would change the electoral system.