Yoram Kaniuk, born 2 May 1930, an important author of mainly Hebrew fiction, and winner of numerous literary awards, both national and international, has won an important victory in Israel.
Haaretz reports that Kaniuk had previously asked the Israel Interior Ministry to allow him to leave the Jewish religion and to officially change his religious status from “Jewish” to “Without religion”, i.e. atheist. According to him, he did not wish to be a part of what he calls a “Jewish Iran”, nor did he want to belong to “what is today called the religion of Israel”.
The reason for this is his disgust of how the Jewish religion has recently been rejecting the values of the Declaration of Independence. This became even more intense when he learned that his grandchild was recorded in the population registry as “American Christian”. After some discussion with the Population Registry, the grandchild’s status was changed into “Without religion”.
However, a request to also change Yoram Kaniuk’s status to “Without religion” was refused. The reason for his trouble is that Israel does not have a definition of nationality, only of religion. At the Interior Ministry, they advised him to convert to Christianity or Islam because it is impossible to be a member of the Jewish nation without the religion.
He then took to court, in an attempt to change his status.
Haaretz reports that Friday, just mere hours before the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Gideon Ginat ruled that Kaniuk was allowed to register his religious status as “Without religion”.
In his ruling, the Judge wrote that “Freedom from religion is a freedom derived from the right to human dignity, which is protected by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom.”
According to Kaniuk, this is really an historic decision because it will now finally allow people in Israel to live according to their conscience.