The Jewish “Islamists”

The very predicament of the danger of theocratic takeover of religion and then state is not exclusive to Islam and Islamdom; in fact Israeli Orthodox Judaism and Israel suffer from the very same predicament. Israel’s Jewish theocrats are divided into two main camps, those are the Hardalim, Strictly Orthodox Zionists who imagine an Iranian-style regime in Israel and the Haredim, the Strictly Orthodox non-Zionists who imagine a Taliban-style regime. The difference between them is the approach to modernity. While Hardalim like other Religious Zionists embrace modernity, the Haredim in contrast reject modernity. This is also the main difference between the Islamism of the Iranian regime and the Islamism of the Taliban. While the Iranian regime similar to the Hardalim embraces modernity does the Taliban regime similar to the Haredim reject modernity. 

While there are forces in Israel’s Haredi society embracing academic education in newly built Haredi campuses that are gender-segregated in time with women studying until lunch and men studying after lunch, most Israeli Haredim reject higher education and are dooming their children to a life in poverty due to giving them an exclusively religious education. 

In little more than three decades time will there be some five million Israeli Haredim due to their high fertility rate, on average eight children per woman. It seems unrealistic that the voluntary path towards vocational and higher education will provide sufficient results and the only solution is therefore a relatively more authoritarian, yet secular form of government that will impose the core curriculum, impose the draft on Haredi youth and ensure that Haredi youth attend vocational and higher education so that they can integrate into the labor market. Of course this will require gender-segregated workplaces specifically for Haredim but this is a necessary adjustment since the Haredim do not want to and cannot be expected to integrate into modernity as that is contrary to their religious beliefs.

It is quite conceivable that Israeli liberal democracy will need to be abolished in favor of a Singapore-style “partly free” form of semi-democracy already by 2030 to meet the huge growth in the Haredi population or Israel will otherwise ultimately inevitably revert to being a developing country as in the 1950’s with the vast majority of the population being impoverished. The question is otherwise if the above coercive measures against the Haredi population can be taken by a liberal democracy and the answer is probably no, that is in practice not realistically possible, in particular considering the growing electoral clout of the Haredi community.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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