3,500 Academics, Writers, Artists Urge Biden and UN Chief to Snub Netanyahu

A group of over 3,500 Israeli academics, writers, artists, former diplomats and other public figures on last weekend called on US President Joe Biden and UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres not to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the upcoming General Assembly summit in New York, over his government’s fascist policies.

Yesterday night screen at the UN headquarters in New York: “DON’T BELIEVE CRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU – PROTECT ISRAELI DEMOCRACY” (Photo: Defend Israeli Democracy)

Signatories wrote “from the heart of the struggle for democracy,” warning that Netanyahu was promoting a “deceptive façade” in international media interviews on the benefits of his overhaul proposals. “Inviting Mr. Netanyahu to speak at the United Nations General Assembly will grant symbolic power and political leverage to a cynical populist who strives to establish an autocratic regime when institutions of democracy are under attack worldwide,” the letter asserted.

The writers accused Netanyahu of “legitimizing racist, ultranationalist, religious fundamentalist and homophobic political parties that until now operated at the margins of Israel’s political discourse — and this solely for the purpose of his political survival.” “The coalition led by Mr. Netanyahu has done this by presenting no less than 225 anti-democratic bills, now in various stages of legislation. Mr. Netanyahu incites citizens against each other, threatens the country’s security and economy, and is ignoring the historical conflict that is tearing Israel apart – the forceful domination of the Palestinian people,” the letter read.

It said the far-right prime minister’s ongoing corruption trial was the main reason for his support of the overhaul, while asserting that for his fascist partners, it was the goal of “turning Israel into an apartheid state led by religious fundamentalists.” “Is this the vision of a country that the United Nations seeks to endorse by inviting Mr. Netanyahu?” Among the signatories of the letter were author David Grossman, who has spoken at anti-overhaul rallies, Prof. Hagai Levine, head of the White Coats doctors protest group, and Prof. Oded Goldreich, a mathematician and 2022 Israel Prize winner.