Thursday, February 23, 2006
What does it mean to be Israeli?
Below is an e-mail I wrote to my friend, qrswave, concerning what it means to be Jewish and/or Israeli. Hopefully it will shed some light on the horrible events going on across the world, and create a degree of cultural understanding. ------------ Israel right now is a secular Jewish state, though this secularism is a real point of contention. Religious Jews are having more kids than the secular Jews. In 20 years, Israel may be overtaken by religious Jews. That is a real bone of contention in Israel. In fact, many of these ultra religious folks move to the West Bank, and are totally militant. It's a problem. There's a movement from America of religious Jews to the occupied territories. Things to point out about Israel... - They allow gay civil unions (how many Muslim countries allow this? Hell, even America doesn't!) - http://israel.jcca.org/articles.htm?y=620051118152457 - article about the Jewish "secular believer" - http://www.jcpa.org/jl/hit07.htm - religion in Israel - http://www.jewfaq.org/israel.htm - What true Zionism means In fact, the Zionists sought to create a SECULAR Jewish state. Many wonder "how is this possible?" ANSWER: Judaism is more than a religion, it is a culture. Many non-Jews do not understand this. I know of no other religion that is as much a culture as Judaism is. That said, there are actually religious Jews, and they are NOT happy with the State of Israel, and some of them, including rabbis, are against the State of Israel in part because it represents a secular Jewish state, and they think this betrays Judaism itself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_in_Israel -->Great wikipedia article on this phenomenon. Israelis from Eastern Europe mostly consider themselves secular. This is my background. There is a strong connection in my family to the CONCEPT of Judaism and the CULTURE of Judaism, as distinct from the religion. I grew up rarely going to temple, if at all. I grew up not celebrating the Sabbath. I grew up not fasting on Yom Kippur. I grew up completely secular. And yet, I always considered myself Jewish. I am currently agnostic (verging on atheism) and still consider myself Jewish. I have a friend who is a flat out atheist and considers himself Jewish. Somehow the culture of Judaism allows this. Actually, per capita, the Palestinians are less religious than in most places. Hamas, however, is flat out religious. More links, concerning the West Bank... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Bank - Great wikipedia article, summarizing both sides of the West Bank debate http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3219200,00.html - Poll of Israelis living in occupied territories - surprising results http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2005/p16ejoint.html - 62% of Israelis support dismantling settlements - even more than I thought! The democratic will of Israelis is to leave the West Bank. It is very clear. Israelis are not bad people. Israelis in fact do want peace, and all signs show this. This is why it is all the more distressing and outrageous to see such discrimination against Jews in the Middle East. The Israeli government does not represent what it means to be a Jew. -Miss R P.S.: Info on horrible antisemitism against Jews in the Middle East... http://atheism.about.com/b/a/002977.htm - fatwa issued against any Jew who buys or tries to buy land in Iraq http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2000-1/iran.htm - Antisemitism against Jews in Iran