Rina and Eugene
Yana and Alexei
Olga and Ilya
Natalia and Sergey
Re: Letter of Apology
A few days ago I noticed in a newspaper a public announcement regarding your request to be registered for a civil union in Israel.
Firstly, allow me to offer you my congratulations. Although we do not know each other, allow me to participate in your joy on your decision to officially formalize your relationship.
Secondly, as a citizen of Israel, I feel a deep need to ask for your forgiveness. I apologize that we are a country that has drafted you to the army, where you contributed three years of your life, is now treating you as second-class citizens. I apologize that in our country you cannot marry whomever you want; and that you’ve been forced to undergo a prolonged, complicated and degrading bureaucratic process.
You have immigrated to Israel because you identify with the Jewish people, and I am ashamed that the state does not allow you to choose your own religious affiliation, but rather, has classified you as “non-religious.” Ironically, the Jewish state is the only country in the world where citizens are required to sign a legally binding document stating that they are not Jewish so that they can marry whomever they choose. Regrettably, the country in which you live, work, and pay taxes does not give equal rights to all its citizens. Israel is the only democratic country in the world with no civil marriage; and in this regard we join the ranks of countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
I apologize that that we, the citizens of Israel, are not meeting the standards we set for ourselves in our Declaration of Independence when we promised to create a state with equal social and political rights for all, regardless of religion, race or sex. The “non-religious” category that gives individuals a different legal status not only creates a religious caste system but deepens the divisions that are already too prevalent in our society. Although the vast majority of the Israeli public believe that we need to create an option for civil marriage, our leaders continually ignore this. It seems that they forget us, the voters, and forget for what and for whom they were selected for their job.
Please also send my apologies from the bottom of my heart, to your “non-religious” friends who were not fortunate enough to find a mate also lacking religious affiliation; those who fell into love with someone registered as a Jew and therefore cannot be married in Israel. I am deeply sorry that they have no other choice then to travel abroad to get married.
Finally, let me wish you – Rina, Eugene, Yana, Alexei, Olga, Ilya, Natalia and Sergey – a successful life and a healthy and blessed family. I hope that your children will know a different reality, and will never find themselves as second class citizens in the land in which they are born. I believe that we can and should improve this embarrassing situation, by building a strong and just Zionist state that will treat all citizens as equals.
I wish you all the best,