Former Researcher, Religion and State Program
Former Researcher, Religion and State Program
Strengthening the norms that are founded on our shared national traditions can help fortify our shared national identity - but any attempt to impose religious norms on a public when the majority does not identify with them will only lead to division and hate, says Yair Sheleg as we mark the mourning day of Tisha BÁv.
Religious Zionism is based on a nationalistic, even hawkish, position on foreign affairs. Such an ethos, especially in the Middle East, thus demands a great willingness to sacrifice. However, this desire to serve the greater good can only be maintained over time if a sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility unites the members of Israeli society.
The relationship between religion and state in Israel is stormy. Lately, it seems the ultra-Orthodox have launched a new offensive on several fronts. This op-ed was originally published by JNS.org.
Recently, the findings of the third Guttman-AVI CHAI report—A Portrait of Israeli Jews: Beliefs, Observance, and Values of Israeli Jews—were presented to the public. The findings have drawn much media coverage because they revealed that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews believe in God. In an op-ed from <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Senior researcher Yair Sheleg responds to columnists who were alarmed by the findings regarding belief in God, and argues that what is really of concern is the inverse relationship between this belief and belief in democratic values.
In an op-ed from Haaretz, IDI research fellow Yair Sheleg responds to settler leader Benny Katzover’s positions on the Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel, and argues that Israel should not prefer either of these two identities and should view its Jewish and democratic nature as two manifestations of human dignity.
In this op-ed from Haaretz, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg decries the ultra-Orthodox refusal to alter standards for conversion to Judaism in recognition of the fact that for many Israelis, Jewish identity is not only an expression of religious observance but also of identification with Zionism and Jewish culture. He warns that the ultra-Orthodox approach is causing serious injustice to thousands of people who wish to live as Jews and raise Jewish children in Israel.
Are the ostensibly anti-Arab bills under consideration by the Knesset, the “Rabbis’ Letter” that forbids the sale of real estate to non-Jews, and the findings of the 2010 Israeli Democracy Index clear-cut indicators that racism is on the rise in Israel today? Or are more complex factors at play? IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg shares his views on this matter.
Is Israel in a similar situation as the Weimar Republic after World War I—on the road to a fascist, racist regime? In this article, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg asserts that alongside the dangerous statements of the Israeli right, the extreme left's attempts to delegitimize Israel and its army, as well as its sweeping characterization of any initiative that seeks to strengthen Israel's security or Jewish identity as racist, are dangerous as well. He concludes that it's not enough to combat anti-democratic terrorism; the exploitation of democracy that feeds it must be combated as well.
In this article, which was published in Haaretz on June 16, 2010, IDI Senior Researcher Yair Sheleg looks at the battle over ethnic segregation in the religious girls' school in Immanuel and asserts that Jewish religious law is not racist; rather, the social norms that characterize the ultra-Orthodox worldview are at the heart of the conflict.
In this article, written against the backdrop of the Holyland real estate scandal and just before Israel's Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, IDI's Yair Sheleg explores the connection between the security situation and hedonistic trends within Israeli society. Mr. Sheleg recommends a new practice that would remind Israeli politicians of the standards and values to which they are expected to adhere.
IDI Research Fellow Mr. Yair Sheleg highlights growing individualism within both the religious and secular Jewish populations in Israel and takes note of growing rifts between the two communities, in an article that was published at the end of the third millennium as part of a collaboration between IDI and Walla!, a popular Israeli website.
Recommendations for Policy Makers - Elections 2015
The Emergence of a New Jew
Rabbinic Attitudes Towards Democracy in Israel
The Dilemma of Non-Jewish Immigrants in Israel