Most Israelis want separation of religion and state – poll

Polls show that religious tension in Israel is more severe than political and ethnic tension among Jewish Israelis.

By LEON SVERDLOV
September 29, 2019 04:07
2 minute read.
A haredi man stares at a Likud ad with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump.

A haredi man stares at a Likud ad with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 74% of Jewish Israelis oppose the government's policies in regards to religion and state, Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality claimed in a press release last Thursday.

According to the 2019 Religion-and-State Index published by Hiddush, more than 60% of Jewish Israelis believe that the three major branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) should have an equal legal status in Israel. This majority opinion, Hiddush says, is the same as it was in 2009.

According to the report, nearly 70% of Israelis believe that issues such as public transportation on Saturdays and the opening of businesses on Jewish holidays should be controlled by local authorities, rather than the central government. This position is backed by 59% of Likud voters.

"Anyone who examines the Hiddush Religion-and-State Index and the polls conducted since January, will be able to better understand the steps taken in regards to religion and state in the last election," said the head of Hiddush, Rabbi Uri Regev. "For many years, Hiddush has been pointing to the severity of the religion-and-state crisis and the tension between Ultra-Orthodox Jews and secular Jews, that has nothing to do with 'Haredi hate,' as Ultra-Orthodox politicians claim nowadays."

According to the report, more than 70% of Jewish Israelis see religious tension as the either the most or second most severe tension in the Israeli society, being more severe than the tension between the left and the right, and four times as severe as the ethnic tension between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews as well as the tension between socio-economic classes.

"What you see here is not 'antisemitism' or 'Haredi hate' but a growing distaste and anger among the adult Jewish public in Israel that wants a Jewish and democratic state, yet strongly opposes religious coercion and exploitation of the status of the Ultra-Orthodox parties as a deciding factor in [Israeli] politics that dictate discriminatory, divisive and dangerous demands for Israel's future and its relations with world Jewry," Regev said.

"The vast majority of the Jewish public in Israel supports the full realization of the Declaration of Independence for freedom of religion and conscience regardless of one's religion," says Regev. "Recent polls conducted by Hiddush show that a party that would answer this aspiration would enjoy increased support among the voters."

Regev also urged the Likud Party to change its policies as polls have shown its voters also support religious pluralism, and said that Blue and White "should understand that surrendering to religious coercion which [many see as] the status-quo" would be a "betrayal of their voters and the acceptance of a serious damage to the State of Israel and the Jewish people."


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