Eli Groner 311.
(photo credit: Sharona Mazalian)
Because I love America, it is with hesitant hands and a heavy heart that I write
this note. I never expected to request revocation of my American citizenship,
and while I certainly understand the circumstances requiring me to do so, it is
important for me to share with you why I have decided to take this
The United States has a perfectly sensible law that does not allow
for diplomats from foreign countries serving in the US to hold American
The fact that this is eminently reasonable doesn’t make this
any less difficult.
Much of who I am is based on my childhood in the US;
as a fourth-generation American growing up in quintessential small-town America,
the values inculcated in me in school and at home were American. Many of those
values are shared by Israel, which I believe to be the destined homeland for
Jewish people of all nations. As Israel builds its place among the nations, it
has much to learn not only from its Jewish and biblical roots, but also from the
ideological foundations which built the United States of America – the greatest
country of the past 240 years.
Every week in synagogue, Jews around the
world read a portion of the Bible. Last week, we read the Ten Commandments. One
of the many lessons of these commandments is that the Jewish nation left Egypt
not simply to survive, but rather with a greater purpose of building a just and
moral society. Now, some 3,300 years after the revelation at Sinai and 63 years
after the establishment of the State of Israel – two of the most momentous
occasions in Jewish history – the guidance from Sinai is all the more
In this spirit, a very small part of what Israel needs to do is
to continually strengthen its economic foundations.
Like other dimensions
required in aspects of building the State of Israel, I consider this to be my
generation’s holy work; therefore, when I was asked by Israel’s finance minister
to serve as the country’s minister of economic affairs to Washington, the
decision to accept was easy. That doesn’t make my decision any less
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I will never forget the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11,
which took place roughly two miles from my classroom, where I was beginning my
graduate school studies. At the time, there was significant uncertainty as to
how the United States would react. A very close, very educated friend of mine
told me that day – as we walked uptown amidst the rubble in the traffic- less
streets of one of the greatest cities on earth – that America didn’t have the
stomach to deal with the terrorists the way they needed to be dealt with. He
said that America had gotten too complacent. Fortunately for mankind, my good
friend was wrong, as President George W. Bush announced to the world that
America would not rest until the people responsible would be dealt with – a
promise eventually fulfilled by President Barack Obama.
When I saw
President Bush’s proclamation that day, I thought here is a man who understands
that the price of liberty is, indeed, eternal vigilance.
I thought of
that moment five years later when my professional career in the world of
management consulting took me to one of the world’s leading investment banks. I
was commuting from my home in a Jerusalem suburb to London’s Canary Wharf each
week to work on what the bulge bracket bank defined as its number one strategic
objective for that year.
Three months into the six-month project, I was
drafted by my reserve unit for the Second Lebanon War.
While many of my
international colleagues and clients thought I had lost my mind, the decision
for me to leave that project to go assist in destroying terrorist cells in
Lebanese villages was an easy one. It was exceptionally frightening, yet easy.
For I grew up in America, and I had been taught that personal commitments must
be made to ensure a land of the free and a home for the brave.
love two countries just as one loves two parents. Today, I voluntarily give up
my citizenship, but I do not give up my values; indeed, in giving up my
citizenship to help further the economic development and strength of Israel in a
diplomatic role, I believe I am living those values I was educated to cherish.
During my 10 years of schooling in wonderful upstate New York, I pledged
allegiance to the flag of the United States each and every day. And today, more
than ever and despite the renunciation of my citizenship, I remain committed to
the Republic for which it stands.
God bless America; land that I
The author is Israel’s minister for economic affairs to the United
States. He wrote this letter in August. This article originally appeared on the
Jewish Telegraphic Agency website.
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