כ"ב לחודש השנים עשר ב' תשע"ד
Read the Prelude: Toying With the Idea of Renouncing my U. S. Citizenship.
Read Renouncing My U. S. Citizenship, Part 1.
Read Renouncing My U. S. Citizenship, Part 2.
Read why Batya won't Renounce her U. S. Citizenship.
|U. S. Consulate, Jerusalem|
I arrived early. Upon approach to the entrance, I was greeted with a scene over to the right, an Israeli Border Patrol soldier was putting on Tefillin, and preparing to pray, while his female counterpart continued their guard duties.
I took that as a sign.
At security, I not only had to check my phone, but also the pencil sharpener. Could that have been used as a weapon? I suppose, so do not begrudge the U. S. government my temporary lack of ability to sharpen my pencil. But, who do they expect to show up at the Consulate? MacGyver?
Besides that, the Arabs manning the front desk took the opportunity to display their inefficiency and lack of professionalism, even more so than when I was last there.
As I walked to the bathroom, with my native Israeli security "escort," I asked him in Hebrew how he deals with such nonsense. He just laughed. 'Nuff said.
When I entered the waiting area, I was taken almost right away, even though I was early. Again, I was the only one there beside my "escort." It all wen pretty smoothly, as I spoke with the same official with whom I spoke the last time. He was very helpful through emails back and forth, scheduling this appointment so that I could deal with him, and not with somebody new, who might take longer, asking me repeat questions, and reviewing my paperwork.
The "interview" went quickly, with the official only asking me if I "still wanted to go through with 'it.'"
I said, "Yes." I signed the forms I had brought with me already filled out. Then he signed them. All that was left to do, was to pay the $450 fee, and then wait for my official certificate, which was expected to arrive by mail in a few weeks. By the way, I chose to bring in a self-addressed, stamped envelop, with enough postage for registered mail, instead of using the Consulate's courier service. ₪11.40 was enough for up to 500g (about 1 lb.), more than enough. I even put a registered mail sticker o the envelop for them, with matching form. Perhaps that was overkill, but whatever.
At this point in the process, I was told that the only person who could take my fee was still out. He should be there soon, and was specifically told that he needed to be there by my appointment time.
Twenty minutes later, I was informed that a call was just received from the only person who could take my money was very close
Meanwhile, the security guard and I chatted, about a variety of topics. Like the security guard from my previous visit, this one also wanted to know why I wanted to renounce my U. S. citizenship.
About forty minutes late, I was finally called over to the cashier's window for the privilege of giving the U. S. Government money, so that it would no longer own me.
Think about that for a moment. I had to pay the U. S. Government to be released from its control, or as I am guessing the U. S. Government might phrase it, from its responsibility.
If you ask me, that sounds just too similar to a ransom for my taste. Of course, the U. S. Government calls it an "execution fee." I wonder if there is a double meaning embedded there someplace.
But, I digress...
Paying The "Execution Fee"
Almost an hour after I should have had everything all wrapped up, I was met at the cashier's window by an Arab,...a belligerent Arab. It turned out that he was not even the on who was late. That was someone else who had to get something out of a safe. This was never clear to me, and remember, he and I were both speaking in our native tongue, English. The only think I understood were the apologies.
Quite frankly, I am thinking about send the Consulate, or the State Department in Washington a bill for my time, time lost from work, not to mention time lost from work as a result of the "required," yet not by law, second visit.
As I was paying in New Israeli Sheqqels (₪), I was informed that the sheqqel to dollar rate was 3.6, as listed on the Consulate's website. I responded that I knew that, but that I was told that the rate was periodically updated on the website, and that today the rate was not 3.6, rather it was 3.47.
"This is the rate we give you," the Arab told me.
"Your supervisor, please," I returned in true, "do NOT mess with me," Southern Californian form. Why should I give the U. S. Government anymore than I should have to?
The difference in our rate dispute worked out to ₪58.50, approximately $16.86, for those of you who think in dollars.
I know more than a few people, Israelis and Americans alike, myself included, who would be very happy to receive ₪58.50/$16.86 in hand, and could find 1,000 possible uses for it, especially in today's economic climate.
The official who had taken care of my paperwork returned to the scene. He explained that was the rate that the Consulate gives.
I anticipated this response. So, I let it go. I just wanted to get out of there already.
I left the Consulate with copies of my submitted documents, and a "temporary" receipt. No seal, no stamp, just the Arab cashier's scribble on a flimsy receipt (below).
This "temporary" receipt apparently had something to do with the other official who was late in arriving, and, by the way, who never bothered to apologize to me in person, even though I was the only person there waiting for him. Too important for a mere citizen, I suppose. I was told to expect an official one in the mail.
However, at this second and hopefully last "interview," I was told that once I paid my money, I was no longer a U. S. citizen.
Nevertheless, I await my official Certificate of Renunciation with baited breath.