August 11, 2000

EVER since I made my first tour of Europe and America, almost 30 years ago, I have wanted to call myself a world citizen.

Not Palestinian, as I was born; nor Israeli, as I became in 1948; nor Cypriot, though I grew from boy to man there; nor Arab, for I fought hand-to-hand to prevent the destruction of my country.

Not American, though I enjoyed freedom and fame and wealth there; nor Mexican, though I was presented with a Mexican passport by the president, as my only payment for locating his nation’s multi-billion-dollar oil reserves; nor Japanese, though the months I spent as a recluse in the shadow of Mount Fuji were some of the happiest of my life.

None of these nationalities, but a citizen of the world. An Earthling, a Terran, a Gaian.

For reasons of tax, defence, law, census, travel and democratic government, becoming a world citizen is not an option for me or anyone else.

Even the poorest people must belong to a nation — as the wealthiest must. US super-billionaire Bill Gates differs from a starving Somali child in many ways, but the infant will live and die Somalian, not African or Gaian, as Gates will live and probably die a US citizen, and not New Worlder or a Terran.

I said ‘probably’ — some people say Gates is not an Earthling at all, but that isn’t the point I’m getting at.

And with his unimaginable wealth, it’s possible he will be able to postpone his death indefinitely through cryogenic freezing or organ cloning or body transplanting . . . but that isn’t my point either.

Bill Gates may not die a US citizen, because he may choose to adopt a new nationality — as I have done.

This year I decided to become a British national, and on June 23 I was appointed a British citizen. This morning my new passport arrived, registered in my full name: Uri Geller-Freud.

Already I can feel the archetypal British conceit, snobbery, welling up. I have the double-barrelled name — shouldn’t I set about acquiring the title to go with it? Sir Uri Geller-Freud . . . arise, Sir Uri!

Table, Sir Uri? Would you like that wrapped, Sir Uri?

Later this year I will be 54 years old. If my powers do not desert me, I can easily imagine that I will pursue my career for another three decades.

I cannot say with certainty that I will retire as a Briton. I might move back to America, now that my children are almost grown — every time I visit the States, I am awestruck by the vastness of the TV audiences and the immensity of the publishing market.

I might seek solitude in Japan once more. I might even return to Israel — when I imagine myself as an old man, my surroundings are not the toy-strewn rooms of a doting grandfather who babysits five nights a week, but the sparce apartment where my mother and I struggled through my childhood in Tel Aviv after my father left.

And maybe I won’t be an Earthling at all. Maybe I’ll be able to step right outside the jurisdiction of this planet’s laws, float up and away from the taxation and destruction. Maybe I’ll live on the moon.

That concept is no longer a figment of sci-fi. Academics, entrepreneurs, scientists — and, yes, dreamers — are trying to build a real world in zero gravity. The Space Island Group of California plans to link abandoned fuel tanks from the space shuttle, fusing them into a ring — a motel in orbit around the moon.

Economist Patrick Collins at Japan’s Azabu University is a guest researcher with the National Space Development Agency in Tokyo.

He doubts that Space Island’s lunar motel will be five-star.

‘‘The first ones will be more like hostels than hotels,’’ he warns. ‘‘Essentially, you just need a safe tank with a lot of windows. And a bar.’’

Space tourism will be big, within 10 years. After 30 years of neglect, the universe is about to become our favourite holiday destination.

The first interstellar tourist will be blasted through the stratosphere next year by MirCorp, an Amsterdam consortium which leases the Russian space station.

His name is Dennis Tito, a former US space programmer, according to New Scientist. Tito will be the first of thousands.

‘‘In surveys, most people say they’d like to go into space, and that they’d be willing to pay several months salary to get there,’’ says Patrick Collins.

‘‘People have got more and more money, but less leisure time, so they don’t mind spending tons of money, but they hate being stuck in traffic.’’

I’ll be at the front of the queue. Maybe I won’t be the first Jewish space tourist . . . but maybe I will.

And when I blast through the outer atmosphere, I’ll leave my nationality behind me, along with gravity and pollution and starvation and Microsoft Windows.

But I will take my faith with me. I may live and die British, American or Israeli — whatever.

Without doubt, I will be a Jew.

Uri Geller’s novels Dead Cold and Ella are published by Headline at £5.99. Mind Medicine is published by Element at £20.
Visit him at https://www.1URIgeller.com/ and e-mail him at [email protected]


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