Some years ago, Israel Segal, a writer and journalist who was brought up Orthodox and became secular, summed up what he described as a secular defeat.
“The all-out war has indeed come to an end, in my view, with the defeat of the secular public,” he wrote. “We are living under an occupation government of the ultra-Orthodox minority. An occupation that is constantly tightening its grip.”
Do the results of the recent general election augur a change? On the one hand, the Haredi parties were left out of the government and have become a punching bag for the new coalition; but at the same time, a new alliance between religious Zionism and self-styled secular Zionism is reconstituting the Jewish state.
It’s a confusing situation. For couples who wish to marry, for example, the religious monopoly remains formally intact, and religiosity continues to constitute a central element of Israeli identity. But many couples find ways to institutionalize their marriage without the rabbinate, or choose to live in a non-institutionalized relationship. Similarly, the country’s public space has become in some eyes blatantly secularized in recent decades: Shopping centers are open on the Sabbath, stores and restaurants sell non-kosher meat, weddings and burials are held without the rabbinate, and colorful and crowd-drawing gay pride parades take place in different cities.
Is Israel becoming secular? Is a secular option possible in the Israeli reality? Or is it the case that these processes, which can be described as secularization, are not actually changing the essence of the connection between religion and the state, but only allowing the Israeli bourgeoisie limited comfort zones?
For more go to Haaretz