Cite: Shelef, Politicized Secularism in Israel

Shelef, Nadav. "Politicized Secularism in Israel: Secularists as a Party to Communal Conflict." Contemporary Jewry 2010 (18 pp.)


Most of the attention paid to the religious–secular conflict in Israel has been devoted to the religious side. As a result, secular Israelis remain conceptualized as a residual category, as atomized individuals who share little but a lack of religiosity, and thus as passive subjects in the conflict. Drawing on lessons from identity politics, this article argues that secular fear of the religious, especially the ultra-orthodox, has led segments of the secular Israeli public increasingly to think of themselves as secularists, making their shared ‘non-religious’ identity politically relevant. To the extent that secularist social and political entrepreneurs succeed in bringing this about, the relationship between religious and secular is likely to resemble inter-communal conflict rather than tension between interest groups within a single community.


Keywords: Secular – Religious–secular conflict – Identity politics – Israel – נדב שלף – Israel: Religion, Religious-Secular Divide, Ultra-Orthodox / Haredi, Israel: Society

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