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A State of Mind: How political Zionism was defeated by the Jewish religion

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Ofra Yeshua-Lyth

Nimrod Publishing House, 2004, 315 pp.

www.eretzbrith.com

This book examines the basic failure of Zionism whose root is -- in the opinion of the author -- the definition of the State of Israel as a state based on the Jewish religion. The separation between church and state has been a fundamental requirement for the development of democracy in most enlightened countries. No religion is fit to conduct egalitarian and unbiased civilian life. The unique character of the Jewish religion, meant to preserve an elite minority within the non-Jewish society, is no less problematic, and perhaps even more problematic than religions with a "missionary" approach, which are at least prepared to accept strangers instead of rejecting them out-of-hand. The "demographic danger" which is part of the loss of a Jewish majority is a direct result of the rules of Jewish laws, which were adopted whole-cloth into the law books and the secular Israeli consensus.

The author uses a series of personal and reported anecdotes -- some quite amusing -- as examples of her claim that the Israeli political right-wing, in all its variety of nationalism and religion, sucks the legitimacy of its claims directly from the ideological base of the left-wing secular Zionists. She wonders that the Israel left steadfastly refuses the idea of "a state of all its citizens" which draws no distinction between residents based on religion. The book also fosters discussion of why utterly secular Israelis do not try to shake off the ancient Jewish practice of circumcising their sons. Circumcision (practiced also by Muslims) is presented as a metaphor of the human difficulty in freeing itself from the chains of tradition, even when that tradition causes harm.

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