Prof. Menachem Lorberbaum is senior research fellow aan the Shalom Hartman Institute, is gepromoveerd in Filosofie aan de Hebrew University in Jeruzalem en stichter en eerste voorzitter van het Department of Hebrew Culture Studies aan de Tel Aviv University.
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RELIGION AND STATE IN ISRAEL
By prof. dr. Menachem Lorberbaum
The problem of religion and state has plagued the politics of the state of Israel since its creation. It has been a constant source of destabilization of Israeli coalition politics, given especially the tiebreaker role assumed by Orthodox parties such as the National Religious Party, the ultra-Orthodox Agudah and more recently, Sephardi Orthodox Shas party. The disproportionate power amassed by Orthodox parties, and their manner of wielding it in terms of budgetary allocations and legislation, have long been perceived by secular Israelis as political blackmail. But the coalitional politics of religion in Israel are indicative of a much deeper cultural rift. Indeed, the cultural divide in Israel is rooted in the very foundational moments of the Zionist movement and its pre-state congresses. Zionism was a movement of Jewish national rejuvenation initiated by mostly secular, yet nationally committed, Jews. The very legitimacy of secular Zionism, and by extension the very legitimacy of its progeny - the state of Israel conceived of in worldly, not religious terms -has been an anathema to many religious Jews (regardless of denomination) for decades. It is the crux of Jewish identity politics.