Newsletter : 6fax1204.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
>PD Dec. 4, 1996, Vol. 4, No. 219
Israeli Poll: 47 Percent Expect Civil War
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
A public opinion survey published this week indicates nearly
one-half of Israelis are concerned there will be a civil war in the
country, pitting religious Jews against the non-religious. The
organization which commissioned the survey plans to use the results
to try to stimulate more dialogue in what has become an
increasingly polarized society.
According to Jewish tradition, 10 Jews are required to form a
synagogue. There is an old Jewish joke that any place with 20 Jews
will have two synagogues -- so accustomed are Jews to religious and
political disputes among themselves.
In Israel, with 3.5 million Jews, the old joke is carried to its
extreme with countless political and religious divisions. Although
all those differences fall within one large -- if tempestuous --
family, more and more Israelis are concerned the disputes could
spill over into violence.
For example, it was a young religious Jew who assassinated Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin one year ago, believing his policies
violated Jewish teaching.
At the "Center for Jewish Identity and Culture" -- a largely
leftist and non-religious organization -- Moti Arad was not
surprised at the group's survey results, indicating 47 percent of
Israelis are concerned there will be a religious vs. secular
civil war. He says the Rabin assassination, and the rise of
political parties representing religious Jews in the subsequent
election, have created an air of confrontation where there was
only quiet tension before.
"Religion and politics are very closely intertwined these days.
And this is what makes it scary. People are very, very scared of
what is ahead of us. We are all, right now, in a very deep crisis
as far as our understanding of our tradition, of our scriptures, of
our relation to this country."
Arad, who is not religious and teaches Jewish law to non-religious
students, says secular Jews need to learn more about their
traditions in order to relate to their more-religious neighbors,
and he says some religious Jews need to be more tolerant of the
Political parties representing religious Jews hold 25 seats in
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 68-member ruling coalition.
Not all religious Jews in Israel support those parties or share
their views on religious or political issues. Still, the parties
are trying to use their newfound power to ban activities they
object to on religious grounds, such as doing business or even
driving through religious neighborhoods on the Sabbath and
holidays. Religious groups plan a protest march on such issues
today in Tel Aviv, and secular groups are trying to organize
a counter campaign.
Arad believes fears of a civil war are exaggerated, but he notes,
according to the survey, they are held almost equally by religious
and non-religious Jews in Israel.
Another survey published this week indicates a high degree of
apathy among Israeli high school students regarding the Rabin
assassination. The survey led officials to call for more education
about democratic values and more dialogue among the various
political, religious and socio-economic groups in Israel. A year
ago, just after the Rabin assassination, there were similar calls,
but little was done.
Moti Arad and others at the Center for Jewish Identity hope the
rising concerns will do what the shock of the assassination did
not -- create more dialogue among community leaders and ordinary
Israelis to avoid the civil war which so many Israelis fear.
What's In A Name?
An American Indian comes back to the reservation to visit with his
parents after spending some time in New York. He says to his father
that he's fallen in love with a nice Jewish girl. His father is
mortified and says "You're betraying your heritage and you'll break
your mother's heart that you're not marrying a nice Indian girl.
You know how Jews are, they'll feel the same way and you'll be
ostracized in both camps."
The son reassures his father, "Don't worry. They must have already
accepted the situation because they have already given their
daughter an Indian name." "Really?" says the father. "What name?"
The son answers, "Sitting Shiva."
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)