Israel Prize laureates, academics & public figures sign letter demanding Israel halt state-sponsored incitement against asylum seekers

Posted on Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 16:17 pm

Late last week a group of Israel Prize laureates, academics, and public figures signed a letter demanding that Israel’s leaders halt state-sponsored incitement against asylum seekers in Israel and at least temporarily integrate the largely African group into the nation’s workforce. They did so in the strongest of terms, invoking the oft-repeated biblical commandment to “welcome the stranger,” and pointing out that Israel was a nation founded by refugees.

Following is HIAS’ translation of the letter. You also can read the original letter in Hebrew.

(Translation from Hebrew)

And You Shall Love the Stranger

Many of Israel's founders came as refugees. Their families suffered racism, incitement and xenophobia. When they did not have a place to escape, their fates were often sealed. The bible dictates over and over: "And you shall love the stranger… For you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Because you have been abused as "strangers," so it is your duty to care for the strangers in your country. The biblical ger (Hebrew) is "stranger"—and not a "convert to Judaism." The fact that the State of Israel chooses to deny history and the bible is incomprehensible.

The government cannot hide behind "the street." The government cannot hide behind coalition members who incite in the style of the 1930s; and not behind the Minister of Interior who administers over "foreigners" while inciting against them—when he believes that a Jewish state is a state of incarceration, confinement and mass deportation for those who do not belong to the right ethnicity. Laws that detain people for three years without trial and sentence those who aid refugees to five years of imprisonment constitute governmental madness.

Menachem Begin absorbed Vietnamese refugees into Israel. Those refugees contributed to Israel and integrated into it. Since that time, Israel no longer naturalizes non-Jews. Israel, unlike any other state, does not permit immigration for anyone who is not Jewish. This is an intolerable situation.

It is the right of Israel to erect a security fence in the south. It is the right of Israel to decide who will enter its territory. But a policy of zero immigration and zero refugees is immoral.

We, the undersigned, hereby demand the establishment of an immigration policy that will enable a certain limited absorption of non-Jewish migrants and refugees in Israel, as is customary throughout the Western world. We demand a halt to government incitement. As recommended by the Chief of Police, asylum-seeking "strangers"—who cannot be returned at present to their dangerous countries of origin—must be integrated temporarily (in the place of new migrant workers), into the world of Israeli life and labor.

Preliminary list of signatories:

Prof. Larry Abramson
Prof. Yosef Agasi
Prof. Haim Adler, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Micha Ullman, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yaron Ezrachi, Laureate of the Political Science Society Prize
Shulamit Aloni, former Minister of Education, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yehuda Elkana, former president of the Central European University
Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yehudit Buber Agasi
Prof. Miriam Ben Perez, Israel Prize laureate
Shimon Blas, President's Prize laureate
Prof. Haim Ben Shachar, former president of Tel Aviv University
Ilan Baruch, former Israeli ambassador to South Africa
Chanoch Bartov, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Menachem Brinker, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Uri Bernstein
Tal Gotfeld
Prof. Amiram Goldblum
Prof. Galia Golan
Amos Gitai
Prof. Haim Ganz, laureate of the Heshin Prize of Academic Excellence in Law
Yair Garboz, Emet Prize Laureate
Yael Dayan, former Member of Knesset
Prof. Ruth Hacohen
Prof. Yehoash Hirshberg, Engel Prize laureate
Prof. David Harel, laureate of the Israel Prize and the Emet Prize
Lia Van Leer, Israel Prize laureate
Bruno Landsberg, Chairman of Sano
Klil Zisappel
Prof. Mira Zachai, Grammy Prize laureate
Duby Zeltzer, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Shimon Zandbank, Israel Prize laureate
Dr. Shmuel Harlap, Chariman of Colmobil
David Tartakover, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yosi Yerushalmi
Dr. Shlomo Cohen, former head of the Israel Bar Association
Prof. Avner Katz
Hadara Lazar
Dr. Alon Liel, former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Alex Libek, Israel Prize laureate
Sami Michael, Emet Prize laureate
Dr. Nili Mirsky, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Avishai Margalit, Emet and Israel Prize laureate
Hana Miron, Israel Prize laureate
Ohad Naharin, Israel Prize laureate
Ahinoam Nini
Uri Segal, former conductor of the Osaka Orchestra
Yehoshua Sobol, Theatre Prize laureate
Prof. Uriel Simon, bible researcher and Bialik Prize laureate
Prof. Gaby Solomon, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Sami Samoha, Israel Prize laureate
Nava Semel
Michal Snunit
Amos Oz, Israel Prize laureate
Ari Pulman, Golden Globe Prize laureate
Izhar Patkin
Prof. Dov Pekelman, chairman of Atra Networks
Prof. Uriel Prokacia, former President of the Economics and Law Society
Yair Saban, former Minister of Absorption
Prof. Menachem Klein
Yoram Kaniuk, Sapir Prize laureate
Danny Karavan, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, Vice President of the Israel Institute of Democracy
Sefi Rachlevski
Eliezer Refaeli, first president of Haifa University
Prof. David Shulman, Emet Prize laureate
Prof. Ze'ev Sternhal, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Alice Shalvy, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Eric Shapira, Israel Prize laureate

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