'You are steadily eroding the foundations of our state'

180 artists, authors, intellectuals call for cancellation of nation-state law

Signatories of open letter to Netanyahu, including Amos Oz, David Grossman, A. B. Yehoshua, also decry law barring gay couples from surrogacy

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 15, 2018. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Yedioth Ahronoth)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 15, 2018. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Yedioth Ahronoth)

Some 180 Israeli artists, authors and intellectuals signed a public letter calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of Knesset to cancel the Jewish nation-state law and amend the surrogacy law, to allow gay couples to have children in Israel with surrogates.

“We — writers, screenwriters, playwrights, academic scholars and members of Israel’s arts and letters community—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,” they wrote in a letter released on Saturday.

The letter was written in Hebrew and translated into English and Arabic.

Among the signatories were authors Amos Oz, David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua, Savyon Liebrecht, Eshkol Nevo, Orly Castel-Bloom, Judith Katzir, Etgar Keret, Alon Hilu, Smadar Shir, Zeruya Shalev, Noa Yedlin, Yael Dayan and Prof. Ariel Hirschfeld.

Israeli authors David Grossman (L) and Amos Oz. (Screen captures/YouTube)

The letter spoke directly to Netanyahu:

Orly Castel-Bloom accepts the Sapir Prize for Literature in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

“During the years of your rule, you have been steadily eroding the foundations of our state. You have harmed the relations between Israel and American Jewry and you have pushed entire populations into poverty.

“You have dealt a severe blow to Israeli society, but the most serious blow is to the values of equality and mutual responsibility on which Israeli society is based and from which it draws its strength.”

Participants of the Christopher Street Day gay pride parade walk through the streets of Berlin on July 28, 2018. (Tobias SCHWARZ/AFP)

The letter also said: “We demand the immediate abolishment of the nation-state law, which creates a rift between Israeli society and American Jewry, discriminates against the Arabs, the Druze and the Bedouin, and undermines the coexistence of the Jewish majority in Israel with its minorities. We demand your immediate response to the demand for equality for members of the LGBT 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.”

The artists said they wrote the letter because: “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.”

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