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Israel

On Church-State Separation, Israeli Views Intersect

While lawmakers wage political battles every day about how much religion the government should impose, ordinary Israelis, both religious and secular, are surprisingly unified on the notion of keeping the government out of their private lives.

An ultra-Orthodox Jew walks past graffiti in Jerusalem
An ultra-Orthodox Jew walks past graffiti in Jerusalem
Dr. Varda Milbauer

-OpEd-

TEL AVIV The political relationship between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel is approaching a breaking point. Ideological differences between the two groups are continually widening, fueling legislative disagreements about how much the government should or can intervene in the private lives of citizens.

There is no separation between church and state in Israel, which means imposing a religious worldview and lifestyle on even the part of the population that is non-religious.

Since the founding of the current political coalition, secular Jews have grown more concerned about the enormous power that religious parties hold. They fear that the government will push forward a religious agenda, worsening an already existing anxiety about losing their "home."

That fear is justified insofar as religious members of the Israeli parliament — or Knesset — are exercising their power as fast as they can to intensify and promote laws and regulations that are very different from the views and lifestyles of the country's many secular Jews.

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Inside the Knesset — Photo: Itzik Edri/PikiWiki

The good news is that while these political divisions persist, ordinary Jews of various religious bents are more ideologically unified about the role of church and state than the divisions of lawmakers would suggest.

In a recent survey, 79% of Israeli respondents said they believed the current government's legislative changes are unnecessarily widening the gap between religious and secular populations. Predictably, 91% of secular Jews responding held this view. But even 75% of the traditionalists who responded said they agreed, along with, perhaps most shockingly, 40% of ultra-Orthodox respondents.

It is commonly said of Israel's policies and its leadership that they are blinded by sectarian interests and petty politics. Perhaps the views of the population on issues of such profound national importance will wake up lawmakers, forcing them finally to reconsider the country's direction.

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Geopolitics

Modi Is Wrong: Russia's War Also Creates Real Risks For India

By shrugging aside Russia’s aggression, India has shown indifference to fears that China could follow Russia’s example.

Photo of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi Visits Russia

Anita Inder Singh*

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — India is wrong to dismiss Russia’s war in Ukraine as Europe’s problem. The illegality and destructiveness of the invasion, and consequential food and energy crises, have global ramifications.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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This explains why 143 out of the 193 member-states of the UN General Assembly voted against recognizing Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions after holding sham referenda there. Ninety-three voted in favor of expelling Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

India has abstained from every vote in the UN condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The reason? Moscow is India’s top arms supplier and some 70% of India’s military platforms are of Russian origin.

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