T Nation

Conservatism in Israeli Society?


Seeing this piece of news made me wonder if Israeli society in general is slipping slowly towards religious conservatism.


I have relatives in Israel, so I've made several trips to Israel over the last ten years. It seemed to me, based on purely anecdotal evidence, that there is a palpable shift present.

Since I'm not knowledgeable on the subject, I was wondering if someone may enlighten me.

It would be interesting to see whether the demographics factor will influence the political course of the country as was the case in Lebanon and more recently Turkey...


These are extremist anti-Zionist Haredi who preach the destruction of the state of Israel, won't serve in the IDF and many of them openly support HAMAS and Iran.


Beit Shemesh Haredi sects:

Ger, Belz, Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok, Satmar and Neturei Karta.

All anti-Zionist(although some are just against 'religious Zionism' = they don't believe Israel can be re-established until the coming of the Messiah) - Neturei Karta particularly extreme. Neturei anthem was being sung by the anti-Zionist rioters at Beit Shemesh.


Any comments about the following excerpt from the article?

I was wondering whether such internal dynamics may fundamentally shift the political and cultural landscape in Israel.


Maybe so. I don't know enough about the internal dynamics and relations between Haredi groups and the rest of Judaism and secular Jewish society to really add much though.


Couple of things:

  1. The English-language press in Israel (e.g., Haaretz) has a tremendous hard-on for religious Jewish people, and spreads crap all the time.

  2. There are all sorts of "Haredi" (the black hat religious folk). For example, me. Each group is independant of one another.

  3. For whatever reason, all Haredi get lumped together by the press, just like all Christians get lumped together with the assholes at soldier's funerals. This is a mistake.

  4. I served in the IDF. I've also had a bunch of kiddos (6 and counting). All my adult (read: draft age teenagers) daughters served in the IDF, in combat units. One, in fact, had a movie made about the experience. All have, are, or will be shortly persuing university degrees at Ivy League or better (MIT) colleges/unis. The idea we are some sort of Israeli Taliban is just stupid.

  5. There are, indeed, some whacko Haredim. Just like there are whackos all around the world.


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I'm not so sure. If I'm not mistaken, Hamodia - the haredi daily newspaper doesn't publish photographs of women for example, so obviously religious conservatism is rather widespread.

I know that my relatives are very vociferous about the religious right in Israel, comparing them to Iranian mullahs, an opinion which is obviously controversial.

That's why I was interested about this.


Bit overbroad, but yes. There are nut Haredim. There are also sane Haredim. I would put myself in the "sane" category.

The problem with the press is the all Haredim are treated the same, when it's basically a 2-3% of the over all group.

Most importantly, look who is policing these assholes and making them stop --- other Haredim.

Trying to understand Israeli politics for outsiders is like using Roman Numerals for calculus --- you can do it, but why?

But briefly, the "Shas" party is a religious political party on the "right" socially, but on the "left" as far as social stuff is concerned -- they sit around and leech off the productive.

This crew is a sub-set of the Shas groups, and akin to the NKs in the United States who refuse to recognize the secular government of Israel.

Again, nutters.


Sure. I am an Orthodox Jewish guy. But I won't push my observance on you. Kindly don't push your non-observance on me.

Yeah, we go around stoning women and beating them with sticks.

In fact, just the other day, I was going beat my wife for showing her calves, but she carries a GLOCK and would have blown my fucking head off. Instead, we screwed on the couch, trying for No. 7.

Seriously, mulllahs? Sorry, just because someone is religous, does not mean they seek to impose their observance on you.

And before they bitch about Orthodox not serving in combat, I'll send you my, both my wives (one at a time) and 4 of my daughters' service records. I'd be happy to compare comendations with them.


Thanks for clarifying. My comments were specifically about Haredi engaged in subversive activities like NK of course. Do you see these current problems as part of the effort to undermine the state or is it more to do with religious/political matters which are unrelated to that?


A simple fact of life that most people are unable to grasp even when you carefully explain it to them is this. The modern, liberated, women of today who thanks to modern contraceptives are so happy to be liberated from their traditional role as a baby maker and house keeper aren't having more than one or two kids. So they are barely replacing themselves or the men who are cool with them being liberated like that.

On the other hand, women from rigid, traditional, religiously orthodox, backgrounds are shitting out kids left and right so they have 5, 10, 15, 20 kids. If they bring their kids up to think the same way they do, how could this disparity not eventually cause a shift in demographics? It is inevitable.

We see this happening not just in Israel, we see it happening in the muslim countries as well. Look at how Turkey has become steadily more fundamentalist. People need to wake up.


I agree with you entirely. And I like the way the Haredi are bringing Jews back to their religion. What concerns me is that this appears - to me as an outsider - to be some sort of power struggle of the virulently subsersive fringe elements/offshoots that actually want to undermine the security and safety of the state.


Exactly. This is what happened in Lebanon, where the high birth rate of the Shia, coupled with the fact that the Christians are emigrating in large numbers, upset the traditional tripartite Shia - Sunni - Maronite Christian political landscape.


Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, whenever some conservative religious group/organized religion/theocratic structure attempts to "protect the women" or some similar measure to "enforce morality", some sexually frustrated repressed assholes take this as a licence to assault and threaten women and to despicable crap in general. Regardless whether they're Jewish, Muslim of Christian.

Case in point - Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the vast majority of Muslim countries...

So I'm not exactly sure you can push non-observance on people as much as you can push observance onto people...


Do you actually KNOW any Orthodox Jewish women? I sure do. Married two. Fathered 4 to adulthood and two small children.

Two doctors, two doctors to be, one a mathematician that will probably be somehow involved in getting a Nobel Prize (I am speculating, but not really).

All combat vets.

Nobody is going to make them do anything they don't want to do.

If Orthodox Judaism was the boogeyman it is sterotyped as, I'd hate it too. It's not, however.

It is also expressly non-evangelical (by which I mean, seeking converts). The contract at Mt. Sinai is a contract with my people.

As you are not part of the contract, it has no bearing on you, except perhaps as a guide to moral living (and a rather good one, at that).


Except San Fransico seeking to ban male infant circumcisions, you mean, right?

And except bullshit lies to try to ban kosher slaughter?

And except multiple attempts to force "multicultural" education at private religious yeshivas?

And persecutions of religious figures who dare object to homosexulaity from the pulpit?

In fact, go think about how atheist Soviet Union forced secular atheism onto its population, imprisoning priests and rabbis, sending observant Jewish people to Siberia.

The most "evangelical" people of the world are secular atheists, and they typically evangelize at the point of a gun.


My observations were more general in nature and not intended to single out any particular religion. Now that you have me thinking about it, all the Orthodox Jews I have known on a personal level were men.

Although I did live with a woman who was raised conservative Jewish and went to Akiva school when she was young. Personally I think that played a role in her turning traif and chasing shiksas later in life...



Most secular groups are interested in fighting against religious privilege, not religion itself. Sure there are idiotic secular causes, I've pointed them out myself. But there are crazies across the board just like you pointed out.

Edit: I could post counter examples if you'd like.


Tell that to the millions and millions of Jews and Orthodox Christians killed by Stalin because they refused to recant their religions and embrace secular atheism.

Indeed, there is no doubt that evangelical atheism in the form of Chinese and Soviet Communists have killed more people than all the religions combined in the history of the world.