Bush or Kerry? No Thanks, I'm Jewish

As the American elections veer closer, election mania has engulfed the world. Even in Israel, Jews who formerly resided in America are pondering the most appropriate way to cast absentee ballots. The question on their minds: who will best serve Israel's interests?

No democratically-elected official of one state can truly serve the best interests of another, as long as his primary objective is his own country's welfare.

So is it really fair to ask which American presidential candidate will pursue Israel's cause most faithfully? Furthermore, is it moral to vote in one nation's election with the good of another nation at heart?

Our sages have taught that "all Jewry is responsible for one another." In fact, our whole religious practice is based on love and working together towards that ultimate goal. The Jewish People can only be held accountable to each other and to G-d, and can rely on no other nation. Can the very concept of an "American Jew" really exist?

We are one nation, however much we have forgotten it, or tried to forget it, over the last 2,000 years. Ironically, then, it is the Americans who keep reminding us that "united we stand, divided we fall."

This week in synagogues worldwide, Jews will read the Torah portion Lech Lecha, in which G-d commands Abraham, our nation's Founding Father, to leave the place where he was born and to go to a different land. That land was the Land of Israel, and there, G-d says, "I will make you a great nation." We are commanded to live in Israel, but also, only when we are together in the Land can we truly be a great nation.

Voting, therefore, in another nation's election not only shows lack of faith in our own self-determination, but also suggests that our mission as a people is not realistic and we must instead look to others for our salvation.

Supporting one American presidential candidate over another is merely a way to strengthen one side in a battle that is not ours. America's interests will never be parallel to Israel's, as the Americans must appease the Arab world constantly to keep their position as the major world power.

We have miraculously returned to our land, and now it is our prerogative to decide the course of our own future. It is hence my strong belief that Jews worldwide have no business voting in any foreign election. In fact, it is a Chilul Hashem a desecration of G-d's name - to put our faith in the goodwill of other nations, and a slap in the face of our covenant with the Almighty.

It is time to end America's national and spiritual slavery of the Jewish people, by unlocking American Jewry, uniting in our land with the rest of world Jewry, and working together to bring the redemption of Israel and the world.

What is the proper Jewish vote in the exile? It is the vote of Moses: "Let my people go...."

[ Avi Hyman, host, The Activist Hour | Published: October 20, 2004 ]

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