Following the Israeli “Social Justice” movements protests this past summer that drew 450,000 into tent cities throughout the country, Hiddush, Freedom of Religion for Israel, an organization led by Rabbi Uri Regev, published findings about what Israelis really believe about the secular-religious divide in the Jewish state.
64% view the tension between secular and ultra-Orthodox as the most or second-most acute domestic conflict in the country;
30% view the tension between rich and poor as such;
87% believe ultra-Orthodox young people should be obligated to do either military or national service;
79% favor reducing subsidies for students in yeshivot so as to encourage ultra-Orthodox men to join the workforce;
80% maintain that core curriculum studies should be mandatory in ultra-Orthodox schools as they are in other schools;
65% believes that yeshiva subsidies and the absence of ultra-Orthodox men from the workforce are some of the essential reasons for the heavy burden on the middle class;
83% support Israel’s Declaration of Independence’s promise of “freedom of religion and conscience;”
80% are dissatisfied with the government’s handling of religion/state matters;
62% support freedom of marriage and legal recognition of both civil and religious marriages of all streams in Judaism;
62% support equal recognition of all conversions to Judaism, whether Orthodox, Conservative or Reform;
60%-65% support allowing civil marriages, relaxing Shabbat restrictions, and more.
Two scholars reflect on the meaning and consequences of current trends in Israeli society:
Prof. Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council, holds that Israel could be one of the 15 richest countries in the world, if only haredi men (i.e. ultra-Orthodox) and Arab women participated in the workforce relative to their size in the population.
Prof. Dan Ben- David, who heads the Taub Center, repeatedly reminds us that if we don’t address these issues, Israel faces the threat of slipping into the economic state of a developing country.