Israel Joins Saudi Arabia as One of the Most Religiously Restrictive Countries in the World

Israel, which defines itself as a “Jewish state,” likes to boast that it is the “only democracy in the Middle East.”

By Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

(TMU) — While Israel likes to boast that it is the “only democracy in the Middle East,” a new study by the Pew Research Center has found that the country has restrictions on religious freedom on par with theocratic countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The report, published Monday by the center, tracks the rise of religious restrictions globally and found that Israel is among the top 20 most religiously restrictive states in the world, with the fifth-highest level of “social hostilities related to religious norms” and the “sixth-highest level of interreligious tension and violence”—outstripping even the war-ravaged nation of Syria, which has been engulfed in sectarian violence between religious and ethnic groups.

The report pointed to such common incidents of religious bigotry in the settler-colonial state such as the harassment of motorists who traverse through Haredi Orthodox neighborhoods on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, as well as government figures who regularly “defer in some way to religious authorities or doctrines on legal issues.”

Out of the 20 nations listed, 19 of them are in the Middle East and all, besides Lebanon, have an official state religion or preferred or favored religion. Israel is the only country on the list that does not favor Islam as its main religion, despite the fact that the country has a Muslim community that comprises 17.6 percent of the population, according to a Pew social survey from 2016.

government-religious-restrictions

The country’s ultra-orthodox Haredi Chief Rabbinate exercises total control over the country’s marriage, divorce, burial and Jewish conversion activities in the country, rendering non-Orthodox weddings, divorces, funerals and conversions invalid in the eyes of secular state authorities. Intermarriages conducted in the country are also not recognized by the state.

Israel, which defines itself as a “Jewish state,” has come under criticism for the de facto apartheid conditions faced by its religious and ethnic minorities, especially its original Palestinian Arab population who comprise about a fifth of the country’s population and face regular discrimination and accusations of disloyalty.

Last year, the country parliamentary body—or Knesset—passed the Nation-State Law that codifies the privileged status of Jews, relegating all citizens belonging to other religious groups to second-class status.

The people of Palestine are also banned from about 40 percent of all Israeli communities by exclusionary “Admissions Committees” that screen residents based on their perceived social suitability.

Regardless of its dwindling support from people across the globe, including non-Israeli Jews, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on his religious bigotry earlier this year when he asserted that Israel is “the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

While you’re here…
…We have a tiny favor to ask of you. Government think tanks have teamed up with social media companies and Google to censor independent media websites and government criticism. Despite this big tech crackdown on the free press, we have been very fortunate, and tens of thousands of people continue to read The Mind Unleashed every single day. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.. And because we value open and accessible information for all, we would never hide our content behind a paywall. Unlike Fox News or CNN, our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. We are not subject to the whims of billionaire shareholders. We are editorially independent, and that makes websites like this an important part in the war for truth and justice. Hopefully we’re wrong, but without your help, we’re afraid big tech companies may soon make The Mind Unleashed algorithmically disappear from the Internet. We need your support to keep delivering quality independent news. Every contribution, big or small, will go directly into funding independent journalism. Thank you. Click here to support us

Advertisements

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.