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Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk wins court battle to be ethnic Jewish, but not religious

Yoram Kaniuk

Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk has won his battle in Tel Aviv District Court to be recorded in Israel’s population register as having “no religion” while still being listed as ethnically Jewish.

Kaniuk, who was born and raised in Tel Aviv, fought heroically during the 1948 War of Independence and went on to become an internationally acclaimed author and critic, reported the Jerusalem Post. In 2010, he petitioned the Interior Ministry to change his status on the population register from “Jewish” to “no religion.”

Officials had denied Kaniuk’s request, saying since he was already registered as Jewish, some sort of official document was required that would show his change in religions. He responded that this is an unreasonable requirement as he is affiliated with no religious or even atheist group that might issue him an ID card or a membership certificate such as a baptismal record.

“I am now over 81 and not healthy, and I would really like a decision to be made very soon about my request,” wrote Kaniuk in his petition. “My request is very important to me.”

Judge Gideon Ginat cited a paper, “Freedom of Religion in Israel” by Shimon Sheetrit which discussed Israeli citizens’ democratic right to freedom of religion. The judge accepted Kaniuk’s suit and ruled in favor of his request, but noted that bureaucrats had done their duty by refusing to change his status without receiving documentation.


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