Rituals of Conflict: Religion, Politics, and Public Policy in Israel

Rituals of Conflict: Religion, Politics, and Public Policy in Israel

Rituals of Conflict: Religion, Politics, and Public Policy in Israel

Rituals of Conflict: Religion, Politics, and Public Policy in Israel

Synopsis

The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a religious Jew has led some Israelis to fear that violence will characterise the already tense relationship between religious and secular Jews. Yet what appeared to be an onset of another religious war may have little long-term impact in a setting where, despite much intense political and social conflict, religious interests have been unable to determine major issues of public policy.

Excerpt

As I write this preface, even after the election of a new prime minister, Israel has not completely recovered from its shock over the murder of Yitzhak Rabin by a religious Jew; and the nation is still reeling from three suicide bombings by Muslims that followed within eight days of one another, killing more than sixty and injuring hundreds. Inquiries into the assassination include investigation of rabbis who called Rabin a traitor for transferring parts of the Land of Israel to Palestinians, likened him to the Nazis, and proclaimed him a fit target for killing.Muslim terror appears to be the work of organizations that oppose the efforts of the Palestine Liberation Organization to make peace with Israel and prefer a state for Arabs ruled according to Islamic law.

Religion is important in the Holy Land, and Israeli conflicts over religion provoke questions that also have relevance for other countries.This book focuses on disputes within the Jewish sector but cannot overlook tensions among Jews, Muslims, and Christians, as well as quarrels between Muslims and Christians.Yet while blood continues to be shed for religion in the place of David's kingdom, the Crusades, and the twentieth-century Israeli-Arab conflict, the picture is not one of simple mayhem.There is a combination of religious intensity and moderation in practice that results from competition among religious interests and between the religious and the secular. Religious issues are nearly always on the public agenda, with shrill demands from both religious and antireligious activists. Typically, neither side wins, and both remain frustrated.

Immediately after the assassination of the prime minister, leaders of Jewish religious and secular communities sought accommodation with one another, but their efforts did not stop several thousand ultra-Orthodox men from gathering in Jerusalem to protest the work of archaeologists studying coffins and bones unearthed at a construction site. (The remains were associated with the Hasmoneans, who ruled Judea for about 100 years from 160 B.C.E.) the leaders of the demonstration invoked curses on the archaeologists that they be stricken with disease and deformities.

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