Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Case for a Truly Secular Israeli State . . .

She could have cut to the chase a little quicker, but to Eva Illouz's conclusion in a recent Haaretz article, my response is: Yes, Yes, and Yes! She writes:
"The tools and strategies that were apt, appropriate and even exceptionally useful for the survival and identity of the most persecuted minority in history are inadequate and even dangerous for a majority . . .There cannot be a greater way to love Jews and Judaism than to “cling” to the demand that Israel become a universal and secular state, that it represent equally all its citizens, embodying the idea of a common humanity."

(Not sure we are really the most persecuted minority). In any case, I know I've been AWOL for a while, but I do check in now and again. Would love to hear your ideas. You can read the whole article here. 

8 comments:

  1. Hi CL - Knew you'd be back eventually!

    I wasn't able to read the article since I don't subscribe to Haaretz. But on the issue of the State mandating certain aspects of religious observance, I agree it engenders no great love for Judaism. I'm all for personal autonomy and choice.

    Just one thing that struck me though is that the ideas of equality and a "common humanity" are not particularly high on the list of tenets in Orthodox theology. Western-liberal ideals like freedom of speech, equal opportunity, democracy, etc. are "useful" to Orthodoxy as means to ends, but they hold no sacred value whatsoever. Not only that, but the "dream" is for a messianic era where many of those values will be tossed out the window as God's eternal law is embraced (read: imposed) throughout the world. So I share the author's hope, but unless you can somehow convince Orthodox Jews that it's "better for them" to have a totally secular State, it's hard to see this *not* becoming the subject of a huge religious-secular tug of war.

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    1. Great to see you here AJ! Thanks for commenting :). Since you have the inside scoop, maybe you can help me understand another thing I've wondered about . . .The descriptions of the Jewish messianic age I've heard sound totally unappealing at best, and like an alternate version of hell at worst (to me, anyway). What is about the messianic age is it that appeals to Orthodox Jews? The Christian rapture seems like a better fantasy to buy into . . .

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    2. Well, the whole "they will beat their swords into plowshares, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore" passage in Isaiah, promising eternal world peace, sounds pretty good.

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    3. The descriptions I got always omitted that, and focused more on what sounded like a Jewish religious theocracy. I've got to get better sources :) - thanks JRK!

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    4. I wonder if I was confusing the requirements leading to the messianic age, with the messianic age itself.

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  2. There already is a secular Jewish state: Florida. The world doesn't need another one.

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    1. New York is also a secular state, despite the fact that 60% of the Jews in the NYC area are Orthodox. Point being, why not let the state be secular and the *people* be religious (if they so choose)?

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