Dear Members of the Knesset,
Attached you will find an open non-governmental organization (NGO) letter to Members of the Knesset, which was jointly organized by the International Religious Freedom Roundtables in Washington, D.C., and Europe; and a one-page overview and purpose statement of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, which explains what it is and what we are working to achieve.
You will see that 23 organizations and individuals from Israel, Europe and the United States signed this open NGO letter to express our deep concern about the Law Proposal for the Handling of Harmful Cults 2015.
As the letter states, the 23 signers of the letter are a truly multi-faith group, representing a high degree of diversity. While there is very little we agree on theologically, or politically, we all agree on the importance of religious freedom for all faiths and none.
We know you share our views on the importance of religious freedom, so we understand the difficulties Israel faces regarding this issue. Yet, we respectfully urge you to reject this Law Proposal for the Handling of Harmful Cults because of threats it poses to the fundamental human rights and freedoms that are formally recognized in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel and protected by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, decisions of the Supreme Court of Israel, international human rights covenants—especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)—and customary international law.
When evaluated within these legal frameworks, the Law Proposal raises a number of serious problems. Distinguished academic scholars and legal experts from Israel, Europe and the United States have made valid points in voicing great concerns “in view of the manifest violations of the rights of religious organizations, the generalities inherent in the proposed law’s language, and the abuses it would perpetuate in Israeli society.”
The letter lists several such concerns and concludes by expressing our belief that if Israel adopts this Law Proposal, it will have taken a major step backwards in terms of religious freedom, tolerance and the rights of religious minorities. The Law Proposal should be rejected. Thank you for your consideration.
With best regards,
Co-Chair, International Religious Freedom Roundtable