Israel Biggest Problem Isn't Hamas: It's Itself


Tue, Dec 4th, 2012 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Fascinating article in The Toronto Star by Rick Westhead, highlighting a dilemma within Israel not seen from the outside world: when the secular and the ultra-orthodox worlds collide and the impact this is having on country, economy and politics.

As Israel contemplates the prospect of a war against Iran or a renewed conflict in Gaza, the country faces an equally troubling conflict from within. Tensions are growing between secular Jews and the ultra-Orthodox, who believe life should be based on the Torah and the ancient texts of the Talmud.

"Haredim reject the modern world and any participation in it," said Kenneth Green, an associate professor in the University of Toronto's department for the study of religion.

For Haredim, Green said, a vision of Israel's future means living under Halacha, a Jewish version of Sharia law that could mean no restaurants or coffee shops where men and women mingle openly, no art galleries and professional sports teams, and a society where streets close on Shabbat -- even for emergency vehicles.

"This is a society that has a commitment to maintaining pure Judaism and keeping life as it was during the late 19th century," said Green. "Their vision of what Israel should look like would be something like an Eastern European ghetto a century ago."

See also: Get Real, Israel

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