Israel is a country of significant importance when it comes to the globe’s three major Abrahamic religions. For instance, for the Jewish religion, it is the ‘Promised Land’ for which they will dwell (Walzer 17). For Islam, it is the place where Muhammad the prophet of God ascended to heaven, and to Christians, it is the ‘Holy Land’ and also a place where the life and death of Christ took place (Walzer 17). The three Abrahamic religions have different values, norms, belief systems and way of life. This difference is usually the common source of conflict between the religions in public life.
Religion plays an important role in the development of policies in a region and in Israel the policies are mainly influenced by the Jewish Law, Halakah (Halacha). This is mainly because the Jewish population accounts for more than 76% of the Total population in Israel with the Jewish religion being the most dominant religion accounting for approximately 75% of the religious population (Pew Research Centre). Other factors such as national language which is Hebrew also favor the dominance of Judaism in Israel and in turn this impacts on the laws and policies of the State (Walzer 24).
The Halakah influences how and what laws are passed in Israel and this accords preferential treatment to the Israelis belonging to Judaism religion (Cobb 89). An example is that most Jews advocate for the shutdown of public transport during Sabbath, and mostly most public transport do not operate during the Sabbath day. This according to secular Jews and other Israeli not belonging to Judaism is a source of inconvenience (Cobb 89). This among other policies is the reason why they seek to have the impact of religious regulations in the region reduced in their daily lives.
It is however notable that for the members who do not belong to the Jewish religion, changing the policies is difficult. As a result, status quo preserves the inter-communal arrangements in the region (Walzer 32). The Israeli laws that are influenced by the Halakah are aimed at ensuring that Israel becomes a land that can guarantee the future and survival of the Jewish people in the globe. The laws favor the activities and lifestyles of the Jews while at the same time making it difficult for the non Jews to function effectively. For instance, as a result of the Jewish approach to public transport, non-Jews who rely on public transport find it difficult to move from one place to another during the Jewish day of Sabbath (Pew Research Centre).
Some of the other aspects of public life that are affected by the Halakah other than public transportation include marriage, military conscription, gender segregation and religious conversions (Pew Research Centre). Most of the non-Jews in Israel, especially the Israeli Arabs, believe that the laws and policies of the land do not put into consideration their point of views and values. Many of them believe that their public life will be affected even further in the future due to the making of aliyah which entails Jews from different parts of the world receiving immediate citizenship whenever they seek for it (Pew Research Centre). They consider that this will widen the already deep division between the Israeli Jews and the Arab minority in the country.
The main considerations are that the Halakah negates the concept of democracy in the land because secular Jews, members of the Judaism religion, the Christians people of other religious orientations have different beliefs and values (Cobb 89). As a result, the values which are entrenched in Israeli laws and are borrowed from the Halakah considerably affect the public life of the general population in Israel and this includes the ones that do not subscribe to the Jewish religion.
- Cobb, John B. Postmodernism and public policy : reframing religion, culture, education, sexuality, class, race, politics, and the economy. State University of New York Press, 2012.
- Pew Research Centre. Israel’s Religiously Divided Society. 8 March 2016. http://www.pewforum.org/2016/03/08/israels-religiously-divided-society/ Accessed 29 December 2016.
- Walzer, Michael. The Jewish political tradition. / Vol. II, Membership. Yale University Press, 2006.