Israel cannot know true secularism, for Netanyahu's right-hand man

“While many of the world's great democracies can successfully and elegantly separate religion from state, in Israel we cannot. " These are the words spoken by Eli Groner, the director of the Israeli prime minister's office, on December 4th. Binyamin Netanyahu said right-hand man Eli Groner was speaking at the second annual Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem.

An year after year at the end of Passover, participants end the feast by recalling a word of hope during the seder ritual, “Next year in Jerusalem. »Words of a prayer entered in the Middle Ages in the text of the seder, the Haggadah, to bless the Holy City which the Jews who are not already in Israel are called to join, and to remember the freedom after servitude in the Egypt of the Pharaohs; words that echo Psalm 137, whose nostalgic poetry evokes the stay in Babylon, far from the land of Hebrews, and whose Jews chant the verse "If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand wither!" »Many Jews ask to join the land of Jerusalem in the name of the Law of Return, voted two years after the proclamation of the State of Israel, even if they do not practice Judaism at all.

The country built by the laity is a paradox

The country built by secularists is a paradox, it is Jewish in the sense of its historical presence in Judea, but also in the sense of a Jewish religious identity, without being a real theocracy or really having a state religion, even if civil status is the responsibility of the religious. He claims to represent Jews around the world even though they are not its nationals. This is how Israel went to look for thousands of Ethiopians of Jewish faith when their country was threatened by famine or civil war, during the famous Operation Moïse, carried out secretly straddling the years 1984 and 1985, or Operation Solomon in 1991. And it is for this reason that Adolf Eichmann was tried in Israel when he was guilty of crimes only against Jews and not Israelis: this was perhaps the most legitimate way to judge him. , the Hebrew state having been created following the Shoah and many of its citizens during the trial were still directly marked by the Nazi crimes; but, beyond the question of judicial jurisdiction, it also meant Israel's concern for Jews around the world.

The wish for a secular haven for a diaspora defined by religious identity

The Prime Minister's chief of staff believes that journalists should spend less time talking about Israeli foreign policy and devote more lines to its domestic reality: "Take the lid off the jar, step in and pay more attention to our domestic policy He begged. Eli Groner considers that the media should see that the diversity of Israeli Jewish society does not prevent a mingling, and that unity is achieved through the religion that citizens display even in their professional lives. A probable reference to the Jewish ethics taught by the Talmud which permeated an entire education several times secular, still religious or secular, and which formed the conscience of practicing Jews or not. And Groner concludes his demonstration by explaining that this diversity in Judaism leads the Israelis to see their Prime Minister as "the ruler of the Jewish world". Should we see in this diversity grouped behind the uniqueness of a leader who would make the unity of all an exclusion of non-Jews?

The idea of ​​a Jewish state is not that of a religious state in its genesis

The idea of ​​a Jewish state is not that of a religious state in its genesis, it was about creating a haven for persecuted Jews around the world. It was the project of Theodor Herzl, from a Jewish family considering that it was necessary to assimilate with the local population, who initiated the Zionist project after the Dreyfus Affair where anti-Semitism prevailed for a time over justice. . Among the Dreyfusards, the family of the future General de Gaulle, who oscillated between the anti-Semitism of his years as a soldier in Poland, which had horrified his sister during their correspondence, and his friendship for the many Jews in his entourage, including the writer Romain Gary, and who attacked Israel as an "elite and domineering people" in the aftermath of Israel's incredible victory in the Six Day War, scratching at some form of Jewish exclusivity. The attitude of a de Gaulle fed on the milk of benevolence towards Captain Dreyfus, whose drama was to constitute a springboard for the creation of Israel decades later, and that of the same man, who became head of the French state annoyed by Israel in 1967, a few days after advising the encircled country not to attack first, illustrate the feeling that the peculiarity of Israeli democracy can generate.

However, apart from the matrimonial domain or that of kosher in public catering, secular laws are binding on everyone.

However, apart from the matrimonial field or that of catering in establishments and public authorities, these are secular laws that are binding on everyone, as desired by the founder of Israel and its first head of government, David Ben Gurion, opposed to Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, informal leader of the ultra-Orthodox, the haredim. Ben-Gurion was a modernist who supported an identity that was not Jewish, but Israeli, Zionist. However, the birth of Israel could only have taken place because, for a century, the diaspora had remained united around a sacred, religious wisdom. In the young nation in the making, to prevent the Haredim from constituting a state within a state, the Zionist prime minister then made concessions to the religious, leaving civil status matters, including matrimonial matters, in the hands of rabbinical courts, making Shabbat and Jewish feast days public holidays, and imposing kosher in the canteens of public services and the army. And he had promised a ban on the sale of pork.

Ribs pork in the street, Christian and Druze soldiers: a less Jewish Israel

Today, Israeli Jews still depend on the rabbinical courts for civil status matters. And the state's kosher certification still exists, which is likely to interfere with the Israeli economy to which it costs $ 770 million each year, because of the quasi-monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate on kosher supervision. The Israelis, on the other hand, are not opposed by the authorities to ban pork, and can even taste croissants in the street in the evening, sipping a drink. An act of defiance towards religious, in part, but also the desire for novelty, to take advantage of a right recognized by law which allows pig breeding by Israeli Christian Arabs. More generally, if the law still includes a part of concession to Judaism, the Supreme Court does not hesitate to draw inspiration from Western case law ; American in terms of freedom, European in terms of human dignity, and still secularizing public life. And, as such, Court Judge Eliezer Rivlin, in office in 2012, wrote in the Canadian law journal McGill:

“Judges in Israel are looking well on the outside. Despite the traditional Jewish belief that the people of Israel are a light to all nations, our legal system does not share the idea that only we can shine and show the way for other nations. "

Arab Israeli Christians and Druze volunteer in military

If some ultra-Orthodox do not recognize this Zionist state, and members of this community are exempt from military service, of Christian Israeli Arabs serve on a voluntary basis in the military, but also Druze, a mystical Muslim community, heterodox and considered sectarian under the canons of the sunnah, which is generally loyal to the country where it lives, in this case Israel. These Muslims who refuse Sharia law, and do not fast during the month of Ramadan, profess unfailing loyalty to Israel. The army invites the leaders of their community to highlight them, recognizing the moral importance of this voluntary service which concerns 85% of Druze men. This voluntarism may be due to their acceptance by Israeli society, with respect for their identity, which is not the case everywhere else. Druze Brigadier General Mofid Ganem is proud to describe his community's contribution to the IDF:

“We use our unequaled knowledge of the territory. During the Lebanon War, Druze soldiers played an important role in gathering intelligence on the ground. "

This voluntary participation of Christians and Muslims in the Israeli army in which the ultra-Orthodox refuse to serve, who however have complaints of a religious nature that they wish to see imposed on society, testifies to the whole paradox of Israel, secular state, Zionist, but also Jewish state, born of a diaspora linked by a cult.

GayPride and surrogacy for homosexuals, ultimate symbols of the forgetting of religion by law

The secularization of Israeli society is not without tension

The secularization of Israeli society is not without tension. “Next year in Jerusalem” was also the word of WorldPride, which held its 2005 march in the Holy City, bringing together thousands of homosexual people. The city which is considered gay friendly even hosts a gay bar. Far from Talmudic prescriptions, but close to the anger of the population, one of whose members, ultra-Orthodox, stabbed six participants in the homosexual parade in July 2015, relapsing ten years after having already attacked with a knife three demonstrators of the same movement. Admittedly, such violence is not claimed by all ultra-Orthodox, this act is isolated, but what it shows in hollow is the nuance in Eli Groner's speech speaking of the impossibility and refusal of authorities to separate religion from the public sphere. Beyond the ultra-Orthodox alone, it is Judaism that cannot yet accept GayPride, and if the Jewish, Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem opposed this march, it is the political power, the Knesset, who authorized it, confirmed in this by a Supreme Court not very religious in 2006. And it was Netanyahu's government that opened the door to gay surrogacy in 2014.

The head of the Prime Minister's office said:

“It's your job as journalists to understand our DNA […], to make Israel more explainable to the world. "

It must be noted that this DNA is undergoing alterations, Israel increasingly entering into the project of secular modernity desired by its founders, simply leaving some prerogatives to the religious to prevent them from isolating themselves too much, but through which the Jews who do not are not ultra-Orthodox feel less bound, especially those advocating true secularism.

Hans-Søren Dag

© Info Chrétienne - Short partial reproduction authorized followed by a link "Read more" to this page.


Info Chrétienne being an online press service recognized by the Ministry of Culture, your donation is tax deductible up to 66%.