Wednesday, August 3

A Theocracy in Israel - God Forbid!

It would not be in the interests of Israel if people lose faith in their secular government and elect a theocracy ruled by rabbis because of disillusionment or despair. This could easily result in the country losing its democratic character very rapidly. Today establishment Judaism has become the monopoly of the right wing largely settler movements. Their rabbis are charismatic rabble-rousers and could gain massive support by many people. Another very important point to remember is that Orthodox Judaism is the antithesis of democracy. The voice of moderation in Judaism has become almost non-existent.

Judaism, as practiced in Israel, does not accept different interpretations even within the various streams of Judaism. A case in point is the non-Orthodox streams such as Reform (Progressive) and Conservative Judaism. The Orthodox establishment does not recognize these streams and they are unable to marry couples legally or be involved in the conversion of non-Jews to Judaism. In fact, members of the non-Orthodox streams are regarded with much contempt.

Israel would slide into a form of fundamental Judaism with very strict interpretation of Halacha. There would be no place for secular Jews in this country. The government could introduce heavy fines for people who ride on the Sabbath or do not observe Shabbat according to Halacha (Chilul Hashabbat). Laws according to Halacha for festival observance would find itself in the statute books and these provisions enforced by a non-Jewish police force on the day of these festivals of observance. The provisions of these punishments would be according to the Torah. Heavy fines and prison sentences for "non-penitents" will be the order of the day. Is there any place for democracy under such a system? The country would slip into a legal system not that different from fundamental Islam. People who see their salvation in a Halachic state are not aware of its implications.

The introduction of a system of discrimination towards non-Jews could occur and their status in Israel would be in question. Rules of modest dress would be introduced - maybe not the "burkha" for women but certainly dress that would cover their whole bodies. There would also be limitations on women's freedom.

Those who wish to convert to Judaism (it would be difficult to imagine that under these macabre circumstances there would be such people) would find it impossible. Israel would be cut off from the modern world and her contribution towards the planet would be negligible. The educational system would suffer, as a narrow school curriculum based on Torah studies would become acceptable. The economy would suffer, as there would be no competition. Israel would be dependent on economic aid from the Diaspora.

There would be a police service manned by non-Jews on the Sabbath whose purpose would be to enforce Shabbat laws. The ramifications of a fundamentalist Jewish state would be scary. Those secular Jews who have the means would leave en masse.

Admittedly, many readers could view this article correctly as a total exaggeration. Nevertheless, its purpose is to illustrate the direction that Israel could find itself if ruled by rabbinical extremists.

There should be total separation of state and religion. This would ensure prevention of erosion of democracy and that people of all faiths as well as secular people do not have curtailment of their basic human rights. Freedom of religious belief would not be in jeopardy.


zac said...

Along with your vocation of pharmacist you may add an avocation as a prophet. What you are describing is a frightening and real inquisition in the making from the creeping fundamentalist society which is already in existence; not only in Israel but in America and Europe as well. It is nothing new to us and I fear that it may bring about, AGAIN, our downfall. Did we not have Sadducees,Pharisees and Zealots? Did we not allow the Romans with 70 000 men and 4 years of battle to tear down our temples? I fear for the state of Israel. What should we do? What can we do? Perhaps your website should take on a different direction? A new function. Think about it. Robert.

zac said...

Like everything else, this form of govenment has its positive side.

Norman Klein