Hundreds of Israeli artists and intellectuals urged world Jewry to challenge Israeli policy toward Palestinians, in an open letter released Wednesday.
“We call upon Jews around the world to join with Israeli partners for coordinated action to end the occupation and build a new future, for the sake of the State of Israel and the generations to come,” the letter said.
The 470 signatories include 48 winners of Israel’s most prestigious awards (the Israel Prize and the EMET Prize); seven high-ranking IDF officers; twenty former Israeli Ambassadors, ministers, senior government officials and Members of Knesset; and160 professors in Israeli universities.
Among the most well-known signatories are authors David Grossman and Amos Oz, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and 20 former Israeli ambassadors.
“The prolonged occupation is inherently oppressive for Palestinians and fuels mutual bloodshed. It undermines the moral and democratic fabric of the State of Israel and hurts its standing in the community of nations,” the letter argued.
The organization “Save Israel, Stop Occupation” seeks to end Israel’s control of territories it won during the June 1967 Six-Day War and to establish a Palestinian state. These territories now include the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The organization’s director Jessica Montell said Israel’s military rule “harms Israeli society and it harms Jews around the world.”
Israel began building settlements in the West Bank after it captured the territory, previously controlled by Jordan, in the 1967 Six Day War. Today, over 350,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements and outposts and another 200,000 in East Jerusalem, which Israel considers part of its territory.
The International community considers Israeli building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal. Jerusalem argues the status of West Bank settlements is subject to a final peace deal with the Palestinians.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined to comment on the letter. He said “we call upon the Palestinians to return to the negotiations table.”
Peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced last Thursday that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed “in principle” to meet in Moscow for talks, but no date has been set.