Thursday, February 16, 2006

Election Reflections #1 (part 2)

Over the last 7 - 10 days there were two particular (politically related) events that I have given much thought to since. The first of these two events was the signing away (potentially) of my American citizenship, and the second was the National Union - National Religious party merger (which I will address in another post).

In the wake of the election of Rabbi Meir Kahane to the Knesset there has been a law forbidding any Member of Knesset from holding dual citizenship. (In this post, I won't go into the reasoning behind why it was only once Rabbi Meir Kahane was elected to the Knesset that this law was legislated, and not on account of Golda Meir and Moshe Arens, two individuals who served in the Knesset with dual American / Israeli citizenship).

That being said, as the deadline approached to submit all party lists to for the upcoming elections, I received a phone call from someone in the party instructing me that I had to sign some papers in order to officially be added to the list. When I asked what I would be signing, I was informed that in order to run for the Knesset, I need to sign a document, that among other things, states that should I get elected to the Knesset I would be willing to renounce my US citizenship.

At first, I didn't really think much of it. In the three years that I have lived in Israel, I have only been back to the US once, so I really haven't made much use of it. Nor have I been a proponent of those in Israel who view their American passport as a life preserver, holding on to it "just in case things in Israel don't work out".

Yet, when I mentioned this to my wife, she was less than thrilled, and the more I thought about it, I understood why. In many ways, an American passport, even if it isn’t used, is a bridge back to ones roots (in a general sense). By agreeing to renounce ones US citizenship, he is, in some ways, severing those roots. Sure, one can still visit the US with an Israeli passport, but he would need to obtain a visa, and then upon his arrival, wait on the foreigner line and be forced to justify why it is that he should be granted entry into the US. Throughout the entire process, this expatriate would likely remember how easy it once was for him to come and go in the United States as he pleased.

With all those thoughts racing through my head, and with a slight shiver running through my body, when I met the party representative the next day, I signed the form, no questions asked.

Why did I sign it? Am I really willing to renounce my US citizenship?

Those are two questions that I have thought about often since I signed the form. I believe that the simple answer is that, and I have written about in previous posts, the reason why I made Aliyah just over 3 years ago from new York City is to allow me take an active role in helping the Jewish People to fulfill their collective mission and destiny in this world, which I believe can only be fulfilled in the Land of Israel.

I have not yet discovered what my exact role is in the grand scheme of things, but if in order for me to do my part for the Jewish People and State I should be put in a position whereby I would be forced to renounce my US citizenship, then how could I, in good faith (pun intended), refuse?

I am very thankful for all that the United States has provided for me in the time that I lived there and for what it has provided the Jewish People on the whole, since its founding. However, I still very much believe in the words of the song that was played as I walked down to Chuppah at my wedding - "Ein li Eretz Acheret" (I have no other Land / home).

Israel. The Jewish State. Home. The only one I have.

Having to renounce my US citizenship would be far from ideal, but it would be a small price to pay for the privilege of living in the Jewish State of Israel and being able to take an active role in shaping the destiny of the Jewish People.


Ze'ev, I won't talk here about the privileges you get with an American citizenship, but I have another question: when you make aliyah to Israel - how invasive does Israel become into your life? Do you surrender your SS#, your driver's license number, your bank and credit card accounts to the state? If not, then how does the Israeli gov-t check that?

By Blogger GregoryT, at Thu Feb 16, 08:05:00 PM GMT+2  

honest opinion.Kol hakovod.

By Anonymous daat y, at Fri Feb 17, 04:34:00 AM GMT+2  

Kol Hakavod!

If I had to choose, I'd do the same, but I haven't had to choose, so I still have both.

G-d willing you'll make it into the Knesset, if not this year, some time in the future.

As a veteran American Israeli, I'm very proud of your step!

By Blogger Batya, at Fri Feb 17, 08:14:00 AM GMT+2  

Excellent post, Ze'ev. I suppose it would be a complicated issue to give up the identity that you grew up with, even without considering the more practical issues of the benefits of American citizenship in this world.

I think your point about not being able to refuse giving up your American citizenship in exchange for doing your part to bring the Jewish people into the Jewish homeland that you envision shows just how deeply you are committed to the Torah and the Jewish people. It shows a lot of character for you to consider the needs and benefits of the whole before your own needs and benefits - in your willingness to put your own self aside, I hope you get the opportunity to see the fruits of your labors.

By Blogger Shoshana, at Fri Feb 17, 05:44:00 PM GMT+2  

I'm sorry, Ze'ev, but I cannot imagine giving up my American citizenship, because I am an American patriot. I love my country, not only because I was born here, but also because I admire its system of government and the decency of its people. sk

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 18, 08:40:00 AM GMT+2  

How about this scenario: You actually make it into the Knesset, but it lasts for a whole 3 months until new elections are held again because a coalition couldn't be formed, and now you aren't a Knesset member, and you aren't a US citizen.

By Anonymous black&orange, at Sun Feb 19, 10:53:00 AM GMT+2  

Yishar Koach Ze'ev!!!!!

Kol HaKavod.

The Jewish People thanks you (but this Jewish person is still hoping you don't get into the knesset).

You still haven't said what position you are on the NU-NRP list.


By Anonymous H, at Sun Feb 19, 12:43:00 PM GMT+2  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Mon Feb 20, 12:20:00 PM GMT+2  

Ze'ev, please do one thing, and do it quickly: Since you have young children and you're thus entitled to U.S. tax refunds even if you paid no U.S. taxes in recent years, make sure you file tax returns for all recent years (including 2005) before the elections - just in case you really do have to renounce your citizenship. Matters of principle are all well and good, but they don't put food on the table.

Assuming you haven't already filed returns for your post-Aliyah years, contact me off-line and I can put you in touch with a very good (and observant, if you care) accountant who specializes in expat refunds.

P.S. How high up are you on the candidates' list?

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By Blogger crazyloko, at Tue Oct 20, 03:39:00 AM GMT+2  

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