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Conversion Bill

12 July 2010 By New Israel Fund

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Prime Minister Netanyahu:

We, North American Jewish supporters of Israel, are deeply concerned. Israel is rightfully proud of its democracy and its membership in the group of nations that value justice, freedom and the rule of law.

In recent months a disturbing picture has emerged of nationalist extremism that would stifle dissent and erode Israeli democracy. The threat has become all too clear to anyone who connects the dots:

  • Women led away from the Western Wall in handcuffs for daring to wear prayer- shawls there, and their leader detained and interrogated;
  • Dozens of activists unlawfully detained  for peacefully protesting in East Jerusalem, and the longstanding peaceful protests in Bi'lin now outlawed;
  • A former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset defamed in a virulent smear campaign against Israel's leading human rights organizations, with images reminiscent of propaganda from the darkest days of Jewish history;
  • The fundamental freedom of Israel's vitally important civil society under threat from Knesset legislation that would selectively label some NGOs as "political" – in the manner of Russia, China and Iran;
  • Women forced to sit in the back of segregated busses with support from the ministry of transportation.
  • Years of effort to achieve recognition for Reform and Conservative Jews again threatened by a proposed law preventing recognition of non-Orthodox conversions in Israel.

Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and it must not jeopardize its standing as a democratic nation.  As a democracy, the rights of all its citizens must be upheld and safeguarded, and freedom of speech, conscience and belief respected by the government and private citizens alike. 

We call on you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, to stand with us and with all those working to strengthen a democratic and pluralistic Israel.  

 

 Sincerely,

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