180 Israeli artists and intellectuals oppose nationality law

180 Israeli artists and intellectuals oppose nationality law

Public letter also condemns ban on surrogate rights for gay couples

JERUSALEM  — Some 180 Israeli artists, authors and intellectuals signed a public letter calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset to cancel the recently passed 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 the letter released 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 Ariel Hirschfeld.

The letter directly addressed Netanyahu.

“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,” it said. “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.

“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 nation-state law, which has the weight of a constitutional amendment, declares Israel as the nation-state of the Jews. Critics say it undermines the democratic nature of Israel, whose Declaration of Independence declared it a nation of all its citizens.

The surrogacy law, which expands those eligible to hire surrogates in Israel to include single women, but excludes single men and gay couples, passed earlier this month.