Michael Oren: What It Meant to Give Up His American Citizenship

[ 0 ] July 9, 2014 |

Michael Oren is an American-born Israeli historian, author, and a former Israeli Ambassador to the United States. And he had to give up his U.S. citizenship to hold the latter position – something that literally made him cry.

“It’s not pleasant,” Oren says. “It’s a long-standing American requirement” to go through many hoops to give up one’s American citizenship. He said he cried when officials punched a large hole in his passport, rendering it void. But in order to hold the position of ambassador to the United States, he had to do it. WATCH as Michael Oren talks to genConnect at the Aspen Ideas festival about why he left America for Israel, his dedication to the American-Israeli alliance, and the ties that bound him to that country:


Oren, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2013, was instrumental in securing U.S. support for Israel’s defense and upholding Israel’s right to security and peace. He has been named one of the five most influential Jews by in America by The Forward and the Jerusalem Post listed him as one of the 10 most influential Jews worldwide.

To give up his American citizenship, Oren, who is also a New York Times bestselling author, had to appear before a council general in Tel Aviv, where he had to hear and swear to his rights and what he was giving up, sign some papers, and get his American passport voided.  Thankfully, he says, he was surrounded by his friends at the embassy, which made the event a little easier to endure.

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As heartbreaking as that was, Oren says he is still an American at heart and always will be. While Oren may never be an American citizen again, he can still receive a green card back in the States, as long as he remains married to his American wife.

“You can punch a hole in my passport, but you can’t take away my American education, my American values, and my love of football,” he says.

Follow all of the wisdom from the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival on Twitter @AspenIdeas #AspenIdeas, and genConnect on Facebook and Twitter 

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Category: Aspen Ideas Festival 2014

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About Michael Oren: Michael B. Oren is the Abba Eban Chair of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy and ambassador in residence at the Atlantic Council. Oren served as Israel’s [...]
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