Mr.Netanyahu – Repeal the Nation-State Law and the amendment to the Surrogacy Law at once!
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Mr. Prime Minister and members of the Knesset,
We – leaders of the Jewish communities worldwide, activists, writers, screenwriters, playwrights, academic scholars, join the Leading members of Israel's arts and letters community – and would like to express to you our utmost shock and dismay, in light of the recent laws passed by the Israeli Knesset under your leadership, first and foremost the Nation-State Law and the Surrogacy Law.
According to a law recently passed by the Knesset and entitled “Israel: The Nation-State of the Jewish People”, Israel is now defined as a nation-state for Jews only. This is a Basic Law, with quasi-constitutional status, that explicitly allows racial and religious discrimination, rescinds the status of Arabic as an official language alongside Hebrew, does not mention democracy as the basis of the regime, and does not mention equality as a core value. As such, this Basic Law is undemocratic and runs counter to the definition of the State of Israel as a democratic state; moreover, it contradicts the Declaration of Independence, based on which Israel was founded. These are two things no Knesset has a right to do.
The Knesset also amended the Surrogacy Law, when it extended the list of people who are eligible to receive the services of a surrogate child-bearer, to include single women who have a medical condition preventing them from having a child, but excluded single men and gay couples.
Those two laws exclude Christian and Muslim Arabs (including Bedouin), Druze and Circassians, and violate the LGBTQ community’s right for parenthood. They are part of a long list of actions by the various governments of the State of Israel that you have headed, from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to this day, and have unjustly penalized the most excluded and disadvantaged sectors in both Jewish and Israeli society, including Reform and Conservative Judaism, the Arab (including Bedouin), Druze and Circassian minorities, the sick and elderly, Holocaust survivors and differently-abled people, single women, Ethiopian Jews and many more.
During your years in office, you and those governments have persistently eroded the foundations of our Jewish-democratic country. You have damaged the relations between Israel and United States Jewry; you have sentenced huge populations to continued poverty and hardship; and you have knowingly and purposely damaged Israel's education system, public diplomacy, culture and economy, defense and welfare.
By doing so, you have done severe harm to Israeli society. But the most severe damage has affected the values of equality and mutual responsibility, on which Israel's society is based and from which it draws its strength.
We demand that you immediately repeal the Nation-State Law, which has created a rift between Israeli society and United States Jewry; discriminates against Arabs (including Bedouin), Druze and Circassians; and damages the coexistence of Israel's Jewish majority with its minorities. Moreover, we demand your immediate response to the call for equality on behalf of the members of the LGBTQ community. It is unthinkable for the State of Israel to stand between a person and that person's natural desire to become a parent and to establish a family.
Felonies and misdemeanors properly defined as such by law fall under the jurisdiction of a court. On the other hand, sins that are infamously written into the law itself by the elected lawmakers – sins that undermine the core of the Jewish people’s existence and its homeland – must be judged by intellectuals and by the court of history.
Please stop your government and coalition members from scourging minorities that create the colorful mosaic that is Israeli society and help to guarantee its existence. Do it now!
Hundreds of writers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters and members of Israel’s arts and letters community issued a dramatic call this evening to the Prime minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, to repeal the Nation-State Law and the amendment to the Surrogacy Law, which discriminates against Israel’s LGBTQ community. The public statement was initiated and set in motion by Israeli gay writer Ilan Sheinfeld, a father of twins who were born through surrogacy in India and currently a resident of Tuval in the Galilee.
“The public statement that I formulated knowingly and deliberately links the opposition to the Nation-State Law with the opposition to the Surrogacy Law,” said Ilan Sheinfeld. “As I see it, Israel’s LGBTQ community, in its efforts that transcend borders and sectors of the population, and that continue to receive unprecedented support from all strata of Israel’s public, has kindled a struggle that is far greater than the Surrogacy Law itself. It is the struggle for equal rights and mutual responsibility in Israel. Sharing in that struggle are all of the weak and excluded sectors of Israeli society, including the members of the LGBTQ community and everyone who has been harmed by the Nation-State Law. This was also the rationale behind the phrasing of the public statement, which was shortened on the recommendation of David Grossman and with the assistance of Navit Barel and Eshkol Nevo. I thank all those who assisted me in obtaining signatures for the public statement in the course of this weekend, including Tamar Peleg, Nira Tuval, Adiva Geffen, Yair Ben-Chaim, Eshkol Nevo, Zeruya Shalev, Idit Shchori, Prof. Gad Kaynar-Kissinger, Orna Akad, and many others. Thanks also to Amit Alexander Lev-Brinker and Sharon Neeman for the translation into English, and to Michal Sela and Gal Amir for the translation into Arabic.”
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