Secularity among Israel’s Jews retains many elements associated with traditional Judaism. Comprising 80 % of Israel’s Jews, they define themselves as secular but nevertheless “do Judaism” by performing rituals and hold to traditional religious worldviews and values. Such behavior is comprehended in Eisenstadt’s “multiple modernities” as well as Berger’s multiple “altars” and “coexistence.” Such behavior may be explained in a new balance between the traditional triad of Peoplehood/Torah[The Law]/and the Land of Israel that has characterized Judaism through the ages and found expression by a Hebrew-speaking people who imported new and diverse modern concepts and sources of authority in the return to their homeland where they constructed a “Jewish” state of ambiguous meanings.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of enormous interest to scholars and policy-makers, yet the internal Israeli policy debate on this issue is often overlooked or oversimplified. It is impossible to understand Israeli actions, the constraints on Israeli decision-makers and the trajectory of the conflict itself without a deeper understanding of this debate. This article presents a framework for categorizing the leading policy prescriptions currently advocated in Israel with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, drawing on public statements by politicians and leading think-tanks, and surveys of public opinion. The most discussed Israeli policy options are presented as follows: maintain the status quo; proactively move towards two states through either a negotiated agreement (Plan A) or unilateral separation (Plan B); or entrench Israeli presence in the West Bank through settlement expansion and annexation. Various public opinion surveys show the extent to which the Israeli public is divided on the issues, and an analysis of Israel’s 2013–14 coalition demonstrates how all these approaches were being promoted simultaneously within the same cabinet, contributing to policy incoherence. The article concludes by outlining how Palestinian and international actions are influencing the Israeli debate, and argues that a move away from the status quo will require decisive Israeli leadership. It also suggests that third party attempts to impose terms for resolving the conflict that do not respond to concerns held widely in Israel are likely to fuel the argument of the status quo camp in the Israeli debate.
The article aims at advancing our understanding of critical junctures in the evolution of religious/secular regulations, referring to those moments in history when one particular arrangement is adopted among several alternatives, establishing an institutional trajectory that is resistant to change in the following years. It traces the regulation of personal status laws in Israel and India, which, despite attempts by political leaders at time of independence to defer clear choices regarding the role of religious law, became generally entrenched in later decades. Based on the Israeli and Indian cases, and in contrast with common approaches, the article demonstrates how decisions made by influential political actors during the foundational stage of the state appear difficult to reform, regardless of the content of these decisions—whether they introduce a radical change or maintain existing practices—or the level of decision making—whether constitutional or ordinary parliamentary legislation.