A new movement to register American expatriates in Israel to vote in the US elections aims to encourage them to cast their ballots for the good of Israel.
iVoteIsrael, an initiative of a group of olim from the United States, helps Israelis with American citizenship to wade through the daunting process of registering to vote in US elections.
According to founder Eli Pieprz, who made in aliyah in 2010, though “each vote is very consequential, very significant”, only 1 out of every 8 Americans in Israel exercised their right to vote in the last election.
In an interview with the Jewish Press’s Yishai Fleisher, Pieperz agreed that some electoral states are more influential in presidential elections than others, noting the importance of each Floridian vote in the 2000 elections between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
However, he also warned Israelis that failing to participate in elections could make a big impact on them. “If I’m a US politician and I’m looking to try to get money without having any consequences, I’m going to look towards people who are not going to vote,” Pieprz told Fleisher. “Those of us who are in Israel and are not voting and are not trying to impact the politicians, the influential who are making decisions in America, which has an impact on Israel, if we’re not exercising the limited power that we have, which is casting one vote or talking to our friends and getting them to cast a vote, we’re doing ourselves a severe disservice.”
Yet while some olim fail to participate because of lack of effort, others bow out of election season on principle, seeing their participation in elections as disloyalty to Israel or a failure to identify exclusively as Israeli.
“Participating in the political process through casting a vote, I don’t believe in any way that mitigates the huge sacrifice and frankly the huge excitement and drive that we all feel by making aliyah, living in Israel, and making our lives in the Jewish State,” Pieprz said. “I think you could make a strong argument that for the average American Jew in Far Rockaway versus the average American Jew in Gush Etzion where I live, the President of the United States will have a more direct, a more acute impact on my day to day life than the American Jew in Far Rockaway, and I think that’s something that we really should be thinking of, that it’s not so much about America.”
“Our organization is called iVoteIsrael. We’re not voting in the Israeli elections, we’re voting in the American elections to enhance Israel, to benefit Israel on a day to day basis and also to hopefully enhance and bolster our political power back in the States to affect decisions that affect our lives.”
What’s more, Pieprz says voters from Israel can make a big difference when it comes to counter-balancing powerful anti-Israel organizations working to get out the vote in the US. In a press release issued by iVoteIsrael, Pieprz warned that “forces hostile to Israel are active, effective and are engaged in the campaign season”, and urged pro-Israel voters to be sure to cast their ballots.
Interested potential-voters are encouraged to visit the iVoteIsrael website, where they can register and sign up to participate in the campaign to encourage others to vote.
“Every vote that comes from Israel enhances Israel’s political capital,” Pieprz said.
There are approximately 3 million voting-age Americans residing outside the United States.
About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
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