Israel's Religiously Divided Society



at the Pew Research Center one of our goals is to study religious groups around the world every society is divided in one way or another I mean essentially that is the human condition but what we find in Israel is that the extent of the division is stark we have so many radically different ideas of what does Jewish and democratic mean how does that work together Israelis living their own bubbles people live their life in parallel routes there has been a major shift in the Israeli Jewish society we stick with our own we stick with our people the ones that are similar to you those are the ones you marry those are the ones you stay around and those are the ones the kids go to school with if you don't stick to certain rules basic rules your kids won't be Jewish anymore I don't like definitions I'm very bad at that and self definitions are very difficult it's it's a bit complicated being in Israel no common denominator the values they see that are completely different values we're talking about religious identity politics these two dimensions religion and politics are deeply intertwined to understand Israeli politics in society it's important to understand not just the differences between the views of Jews and Arabs in Israel but also to understand the great gulfs within the Israeli Jewish population Israeli Jewish society is divided on a spectrum of religious observance nearly all Israeli Jews identified themselves as belonging to one of four categories hurriediy on the ultra-orthodox dottie often translated as religious mass RT often translated as traditional and he Loney best understood as secular so I'm definitely Killiney I used to be secular who didn't really care for tradition but still kept it and I know for the sake of my family and I see myself nowadays more as a secular who cares more about these things more for myself and and the importance of tradition in my life while growing up in Israel you don't get to interact with a lot of people from other denominations of Judaism and if you're secular so you go to school in your school high school primary school elementary and if you're you're already here so you go to already a high school and primary school I think the surrounding community is probably the most complex community here in Israel and the regular karate system educational system it's very strict about its rules for example the first girl I ever spoke to as my wife I never spoke with two girls it's only boys and girls and separated we've never met non-religious Jews you know occasionally he walking Street he go to buy something you go to the mall you see them but you have nothing to do with them they're like out there there there's like a big wall separating between between you it's not a physical wall but you basically have nothing to do with them as an Orthodox Jew I have to keep some you know some rules etc it's a tension between keeping the heritage keeping the tradition passing it on it's a it's a liability I mean it's something on your shoulders and between yourself as an as an individual it's it's a complex thing in a sense the DA team are Orthodox just like the Haredi are Orthodox however there's a key difference don t are much more integrated into modern Israeli society than are the high reading before the Holocaust to be a Jew meant a lot of different habits tribes customs and I think one of the what the Holocaust made is to understand that we are one and as far as I can see it we have responsibilities each and every one of us especially after the Holocaust to keep to keep the Judaism in the world it really is a struggle what Israel's trying to define itself religiously I don't like definitions I'm very bad at that and self definitions are very difficult I guess like more masala tea for myself would be I can have periods when I'm more religious and have periods when I'm much less religious and I have moments or situations when I feel more religious and situations when I feel much less religious the muscle team formed 29% of Israeli Jewish adults and of the four groups they are the hardest to characterize and that's essentially because of how diverse this group is they display a wide range of religious observance and it's often difficult to say whether they are religious or that they are not religious what we can say is they often hold the middle ground between religious and secular Jews in Israel and in fact I've heard the scholar described the muscle team as well a little bit of this and a little bit of that I think Judaism itself is how make is going through a change and here in Israel it's more intense it's more intense because they're more they're more points of friction between different kinds of thoughts and ideas and ways of life and each kind of a more ultra-orthodox view of life in the politics may make a big difference on a big you know a large on the whole population actually of Israel and that could make a change and more or less I'm walking on a way of looking at things will make a big change also in the whole population it turns out that these groups are actually very powerful social identities people conduct a lot of their social relationships and a lot of the family relationships within those confines those for those four major streams maybe only the mass or team who are kind of between the secular and the religious actually have softer boundaries but what what the Pew study found is that people from different parts of that spectrum really have really little to do with each other and that that's something that speaks to larger divisions in society where people place themselves on the spectrum of Jewish traditionalism is also strongly associated with their political views and their views toward other groups in the society before go to different workplaces people will get married only with people who live the same kind of lifestyle and have the same kind of political view of things we're going to have a problem of four tribes no majority no connections no personal connections no meeting points when Israel's founding it's in its beginning ye in the beginning of Israel the Army was that melting pot you would live wherever you would grow up whatever but you would all find yourself at the age of eighteen in this place and the army from the beginning the Israeli IDF had a notion that it wasn't just about the military it had a social role to play in Israel the military experience is something that most Israeli Jews share most Israeli Jews love the army we it the Army is us the armies are kids today almost half of Israel's 18 year olds do not go into the army there are there Arabs there either already or the women who say they don't want to go into the army for religious reasons so it's not it can't be that melting pot not really an issue it's pretty obvious to every committee child that they're not serving in the military right it's not an issue it's a non-issue unless you're speaking about a very very small portion of the community and certain people who are not following the straight path in the current system and there it's an issue but in general it's it's not even like it's obvious you don't serve in the military the current projections for the cutter team are that the rate of growth is is very high so it if if it continues as is their proportion in the total Jewish population and it will increase I can even volunteer a few numbers we have now about 10 to 12 percent of the Jewish population in 2030 it might become closer to 20 25 percent of the total population Jewish and in 2050 2060 it might be as high as one third of the total Jewish population initially there is no longer a secular religious divide here what does exist very strongly is an ultra-orthodox everyone else divide the Haredi population today continues to have a very low rate of participation in the labor force and men tend to study all of their life the question is whether there will be a change in the propensity of her ready to go to work if more Jewish men will go to work they will earn more and so the situation of their families will improve there will be less of a need of a public subsidy maybe they will have more contacts with the rest of the Israeli population in this study when we ask people can Israel be both a democracy and a Jewish state all four groups said it can be both a democracy and a Jewish state and it was in fact a majority of every group saying yes however what happens when there is a contradiction between ha is Jewish law and the principles of democracy that's when Israeli public opinion splits and it splits very neatly along the lines of these four groups with the high redeem taking one side of the issue and saying halaqah should take precedence and an equally large share of the helo name taking the opposite side of the issue and saying democracy should take precedence haha and democracy or pluralism contradict a lot of times when you're talking about gay marriage for example there's no way that kratom or any religious group in Israel can agree with that and go for that it just can't happen and the whole pluralism movement is accepting everyone and everything the way they want to be it can never work you can be you know tolerance for everything you want and you can tell people you can choose whatever you want to do etcetera etcetera etcetera but teach if you don't stick if you don't stick to certain rules or basic rules yeah your kids won't be Jewish anymore we can't ask Iranian we can't agree to have everything run here on Shabbat just like it's another regular day because Shabbat we believe and that's a belief that we really like based our religion on that Shabbat is a rest day and we all grew up on the stories of our great-grandfather's coming to America after the Holocaust and and having to work on Shabbat and they worked Sunday to or Monday to Thursday and they would get fired every week for refusing to work on Shabbat it's the children the children sing the songs it's like part of they grow up with that from from age zero so that's not something that can ever ever work someone coming from the secular tribe which of course obviously I would be representing has more in common or has a lot in common from a secular professional our professional living in a village up north then they would have if you think about the core values from a hardy from a shoving because if you ask me and you ask my fellow Arab citizen where do you put democracy we put democracy first we've got a a large and growing minority in Israel that is first of all arab-israeli and who don't identify with the ethos of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state they want more democracy less Jewish we also have another fast-growing minority population of ultra-orthodox Jews and they also don't identify with the ethos of the majority which sees Israel entwined as the foundation of Israel as Jewish and democratic and they want to see an Israel that is more Jewish and less democratic Israel aspires be a Jewish Democratic state some have quipped that it well it succeeds its democratic for the Jews and it's Jewish for the Arabs so the Arab minority in this country understandably views the attempt to make the government and the state and the symbols Jewish as putting them in an inferior position how can you talk about a country that really want to be democracy and there is of course big contradiction between the being democratic and being a Jewish state I can't say that I'm an Israeli since Israel considered itself as a Jewish state I'm not a Jewish obviously the Palestinian question remains big and it's hard to kind of take it out of the picture because it's it's the big elephant in the room in the relationship but let's set it aside for a minute it's hard to to think of you know the the relationship between Arabs and Jews except in historical perspective it's not just the structure of this state and I mean by that both the inception of the conflict itself that has developed a certain sense of identity I mean citizenship is first and foremost about identity the religious spectrum of Jews in Israel where people are on that spectrum is also associated with where they stand on the peace process and their views of Israeli Arabs and of Palestinians it comes as no surprise that as you move to the religious right you also move to the political rights so we're talking not about religious identity alone we're talking about religious identity politics the turn to the right the the rise of ultra-nationalism the the expansion of religious groups the focus more on Jewish identity that has certainly created more tension over the past decade then we you know after a period of what it looked really promising in the 1990s of all the questions that we asked in the survey the one that by far got the most media attention in Israel was the question when we asked Israelis whether they strongly agree agree disagree or strongly disagree with the statement Arabs should be transferred were expelled from Israel I think many people were surprised particularly people on the left side of the Israeli political spectrum were surprised and frankly disconcerted know in Canada Petrucci Masuka let be televised lady in me a soda machine divinity search of Shri Shiva Moslem Hobbiton la Chamba cloud a lady she shot a inimitable Masada Mousavi ela but sad they are realistic le transfer ownership Lhasa Davao Chabot madinat al di Modena democratic Rock Lee who Deeb Yvonne Shelly Medina yo D Democratic Isha Medina hi udta Democratic Rock Lee you there Gudivada che who should built it sherry even a Miata develop over that era who met a plane before the this question asks for a gut reaction it did not probe support for or opposition to any specific policy proposal we found that statistically there is a tie in the Israeli public when it comes to agreement or disagreement with this statement 48 percent in agree 46 percent disagree statistically that's the same thing but the division on this issue in the Israeli public mirrored the political rips we see in the country and those are strongly tied to the religious rift we see in the country I think the Pew survey did a very great public service in that it raised aware of the level of awareness in front of these polarization trends within the Jewish camp and between the Jewish and Arab camps it's probably a call to those in charge to think very carefully about what they say and where they lead the community in the country I think that despite the growing gaps between secular religious on political issues I still believe that a two-state solution is viable and what we've seen over and over again is that before there is a concrete possibility for a peace agreement a majority of Israelis are always skeptical and don't believe peace is possible the moment there is a real offer on the table the the numbers reverse we have really kind of universal pessimism and that has been increasing and it's it's in fact reach people who had been optimists in the past at the same time when you ask people okay let's put the assessment aside from it what if I were to bring it two-state solution to you tomorrow will you take it and you still have a majority you say yes I'd take with good intentions you can we can find solution for everything with bad intentions we will be worried about everything and we will be in this a we will be sinking in such a situation forever inside Israel we have a new emerging country where there is no majority in minority but about four groups which share this land and have to share the understanding that no one's going away no one tomorrow morning is going to be shifted transferred all of a sudden find a new home and we are here together and we have to figure it out you

13 thoughts on “Israel's Religiously Divided Society

  • in MY opinion aslo after watching this documentary, religion is the only problem in israel, if u dont adapt u dont survive and stubborn israelis just cant do it on 11:19 best example u can have
    In the moment israelis will throw all their religious prejustice, there wont be many problems left in there

  • ISRAEL HAS FAILED. DIVERSITY IS DESTROYING IT FROM WITHIN. A JEWISH COUNTRY CANNOT HAVE NON-JEWS OR RADICAL JEWS. THE TORAH IS ONE, G-D IS ONE, AND JEWS MUST BE ONE OR THEY WILL PERISH. HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING FROM READING THE TORAH OVER AND OVER AGAIN???? READ WHAT G-D DOES TO DISOBEDIENT JEWS. HE WARNED YOU. SO DO NOT CRY WHEN HE DESTROYS YOU.

  • JUDAISM IS GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING CHRISTIANITY HAS GONE THROUGH. MANY DIFFERENT SECTS AND TYPES. ALL FOLLOW DIFFERENT RULES BUT STILL CLAIM TO WORSHIP THE SAME G-D. JUDAISM IS ON A SPIRAL INTO DEATH. IT IS BROKEN. THERE IS ONE G-D, ONE LAW. MAN CANNOT MAKE UP THEIR OWN LAWS OR INTERPRET THE WORD OF G-D. NO MAN, RABBI, PRIEST, OR PREACHER CAN ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM G-D'S WORD AND LAW. EACH JEW HAS TO DECIDE WHAT KIND OF JEW ARE THEY??? A REAL JEW??? OR A FAKE JEW???? THERE IS ONLY ONE KIND. NO EXCEPTIONS. NO RADICALS, NO REFORM, NO CONSERVATIVE, NO HASIDIC, NONE OF THOSE. ONE LAW, ONE G-D, ONE JUDAISM. LIKE IT OR GET OUT. G-D DOES NOT ACCEPT HALF OBEDIENCE . YOU EITHER OBEY OR YOU DIE. HAVE JEWS LEARNED NOTHING FROM READING THE TORAH?????

  • This proves diversity does not work. G-d warned the Israelites to NOT allow people who worship other G-ds to live among them and to NOT marry outside the religion lest these people cause them to worship other G-ds. And NO, Muslims do not worship the same G-d as the Israelites. They allowed Mohammad to take G-ds place. Christians worship a pagan religion. DIVERSITY FAIL. ALL JEWS MUST FOLLOW THE SAME LAWS AND THE SAME G-D. SPLITTING INTO DIFFERENT SECTS WILL NOT WORK AND G-D WILL REJECT YOU. ONE TORAH, ONE LAW. WHEN MEN START CHANGING LAWS TO FIT MAN'S MIND, THEN THEY ARE NO LONGER G-DS LAWS. THEY ARE MANS. YOU CAN NEVER CHANGE THE LAW. NOT FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER.

  • If we believe in kindness and make it our divine religion , we will never live in troubles such as racism . We are all humans . Why we judge people by their religion . Yes we have to be secular looking for the truth , but that does not means to take science as a religion . Kindness , love , harmony , peace and equality should be our goal and religion .

  • There are few clearer examples of the slow poison that religious fundamentalism is to modern societies. Politicians who court fundamentalists are short-sighted and are playing with fire. Fundamentalists sow the seeds of their own destruction.

  • The problem of Israeli society is simple:

    JEREMIAH 6:16-19: "
    16 Thus saith the Lord,
    Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the OLD PATHS , where is the
    good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But
    they said, We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. 18 Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. 19 Hear,
    O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of
    their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my
    law, but rejected it.

  • Can't you find this among all social groups in most countries? We were talking about social groups in my sociology

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