Emissaries of Israeli NGOs stationed around the world are Israeli citizens
serving their country abroad – but they can’t vote, much to their
The only citizens permitted to vote in Israeli embassies and
consulates, according to the Election Law, are diplomats or emissaries who
receive their salary from the Jewish Agency.
Meanwhile, hundreds of
emissaries from youth groups, and religious and educational NGOs – most of whom
are recognized and even trained by the Jewish Agency – are not allowed to
exercise their right to vote unless they fly back to Israel.
Shapira, 20 and of Ra’anana, is currently doing National Service (Sherut Leumi)
through religious-Zionist youth group Bnei Akiva in Scarsdale, NY, and was
notified that she cannot vote at the Israeli consulate in New York.
emissaries, who are sent on a mission for the People of Israel – you would think
they would do something [to make it possible to vote] even if we do not work
directly for the Jewish Agency,” Shapira wrote in response to a query by The
“We [emissaries] all have the same Zionist goal. Why does
it matter who we get our salary from?” she asked.
Giyora Lev, who is
serving as an emissary with his wife Sharon in Gotheburg, Sweden, called the
“We didn’t know when we were sent abroad that we
wouldn’t be able to vote,” Lev, who was trained by the Jewish Agency and is an
emissary of both the World Zionist Organization and Bnei Akiva, explained. “It
was very clear to me that as emissaries, we should be allowed to.”
originally heard from colleagues that he would not be able to vote, before
receiving an official notice. "The law needs to be changed, but it’ll be too
late to help us,” he added.
Tor Tzok, an emissary of Hillel International
at Columbia University, is in Israel with a Birthright group this week, but also
said “it’s very frustrating that I would not be able to vote [in New York].”