JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel should give Israeli migrants absentee voting rights for their first four years abroad and finance schools for the children of Israelis in the Diaspora, a new policy paper recommends.
The policy paper released this week by the Jewish People Policy Institute based in Jerusalem argues that Israelis residing abroad, especially in North America, can be a strategic asset to Israel, and help facilitate a process of demographic and identity regeneration within Diaspora Jewry as well as serve as a bridge between Israel and Jewish communities abroad.
The paper, titled "Helping Yordim Remain Jewish: A new policy for the treatment of Israeli migrants abroad," was authored by JPPI fellow Yogev Karasenty. It calls on Israeli decision makers to give Israeli migrants absentee voting rights for their first four years abroad to strengthen ties with Israel, and to finance the establishment of kindergartens and schools for children of Israelis in the Diaspora, as well as to finance special study tracks for the children of Israeli migrants studying in Jewish schools.
Yordim, which literally means those who descend, is the Hebrew term used to describe Israelis who leave for the Diaspora.
The paper pointed out that the second-generation Israeli migrant community is exposed to an accelerated assimilation process and that Israeli parents abroad face difficulties in instilling an "Israeli" identity in the next generation.
JPPI President Avinoam Bar-Yosef said that "Israel should make a real effort to embrace the children of Yordim, who have moved away from Israel as a result of the negative attitude of the Israeli state and public opinion toward their parents, in order to strengthen their Jewish identity and long-term ties to Israel. This approach must be accompanied by economic investment and a shift of strategy, especially in an era when distances are decreasing, allowing many people to live their lives in more than one country."