Israel’s Religiously Divided Society


(soft music) – At the Pew Research
Center one of our goals is to study religious
groups around the world. Every society is divided
in one way or another and essentially that
is the human condition. But what we find in Israel is that the extent of the division is stark. – We have so many
radically different ideas of what does Jewish and democratic mean? How does that work together? – Israelis live in their own bubbles. People live their life in parallel roots. – There has been a major shift in the Israeli Jewish society. – We stick with our own. We stick with our people, the
ones that are similar to you, those are the ones you marry, those are the ones you stay around, and those are the ones your
kids go to school with. – If you don’t stick to certain rules, basic rules, your kids
won’t be Jewish anymore. – I don’t like definitions. I’m very bad at that and self definitions are very difficult. – It’s a bit complicated being in Israel. – [Woman] No common denominator. The values they see that are
completely different values. – We’re talking about
religious identity politics. These two dimensions,
religion and politics, are deeply intertwined. – To understand Israeli
politics in society it’s important to understand
not just the differences between the views of
Jews and Arabs in Israel, but also to understand, the great gulfs within the Israeli Jewish population. – Israeli Jewish society is divided on a spectrum of religious observance. Nearly all Israeli Jews
identified themselves as belonging to one of four categories. Haredi, or the ultra orthodox. Dati, often translated as religious. Masorti, often translated as traditional. And Hiloni, best understood as secular. – So I’m definitely Hiloni. I used to be secular, who
didn’t really care for tradition but still kept it, I don’t know, for the sake of my family. And I see myself nowadays
more as a secular who cares more about these
things more for myself. And the importance of
tradition in my life. While growing up in Israel
you don’t get to interact with a lot of people
from other, let’s say, denominations of Judaism. And if you’re secular, to
go to school in your school, high school, primary school, elementary. And if you’re a Haredi, you go to Haredi high school and primary school. – I think the Haredi community is probably the most complex
community here in Israel. – (speaking in a foreign language) – And the regular Haredi
system, the educational system, it’s very strict about its rules. For example, the first girl
I ever spoke to was my wife. I never spoke to girls. It’s only boys and girls are separated. We’ve never met non-religious Jews. You know, occasionally
you walk in the street, you go to buy something,
you go to the mall, you see them but you have
nothing to do with them. They’re like out there. There’s like a big wall
separating between you. It’s not a physical wall. But you basically have
nothing to do with them. – As an orthodox Jew, I have to keep some, you know, some rules et cetera. It’s a tension between
keeping the heritage, keeping the tradition and passing it on. It’s a liability. I mean, it’s something on your shoulders and between yourself as an individual. It’s a complex thing. – In a sense, the Datim are orthodox. Just like the Haredi are orthodox. However, there’s a key difference. Dati are much more integrated into modern Israeli society
than are the Haredi. – Before the Holocaust, to be
a Jew meant a lot of different habits, tribes, customs,
and I think one of the, what the Holocaust made is to
understand that we are one. And as far as I can see
it, we have responsibility, each and every one of us,
especially after the Holocaust, to keep the Judaism in the world. – It really is a struggle, what Israel is trying to define itself religiously. I don’t like definitions. I’m very bad at that and self-definitions are very difficult. I guess I’m like more
Masorti, for myself, would be. I can have periods when I’m more religious and have periods when
I’m much less religious and I have moments or situations when I feel more religious and situations when I feel much less religious. – The Masorti form 29%
of Israeli Jewish adults and of the four groups they are
the hardest to characterize. And that’s essentially because
of how diverse this group is. They display a wide range
of religious observance and it’s often difficult to say whether they are religious or that
they are not religious. What we can say is they
often hold the middle ground between religious and
secular Jews in Israel. And in fact I’ve heard a
scholar describe the Masorti as well a little bit of this
and a little bit of that. – I think Judaism itself
is going through a change and here in Israel it’s more intense. (chuckles) It’s more intense
because there are more points of friction between
different kinds of thoughts and ideas and ways of life. And each kind of a more ultra-Orthodox, view of life in the politics may make a big difference on a big, you know, a large, on the whole
population, actually, of Israel. And that could make a change and a more Hiloni way of looking at things will make a big change also
in the whole population. – It turns out that
these groups are actually very powerful social identities. People conduct a lot of
their social relationships and a lot of their family relationships within those confines. Those four major streams. Maybe only the Masortim
who are kind of between the secular and the religious actually have softer boundaries. But what the Pew Study found is that people from different
parts of that spectrum really have relatively
little to do with each other and that’s something that speaks to larger divisions in the society. – Where people place themselves on the spectrum of Jewish traditionalism is also strongly associated with their political views and their views toward other groups in the society. – People go to different workplaces. People will get married only with people who live in the same kind of lifestyle and have the same kind of
political view of things. – We’re going to have a
problem of four tribes, no majority, no connections, no personal connections,
no meeting points. When Israel was founded in it’s beginning, in the beginning of Israel, the Army was that melting pot. You would live wherever. You would grow up whatever. But you would all find yourself, at the eight of 18, in this place. And the Army from the beginning, Israeli IDF, had a notion that it wasn’t just about the military. It had a social role to play in Israel. – The military experience is something that most Israeli Jews share. Most Israeli Jews love the Army. The Army is us. The Army is our kids. – Today, almost half of
Israel’s 18 year olds do not go into the Army. They’re either Arabs,
they’re either Haredi, or they’re women who say they don’t want to go into the Army for religious reasons. So it’s not, it can’t be that melting pot. – Not really an issue. It’s pretty obvious to ever Haredi child that they’re not serving in the military. – Right. – It’s not an issue. It’s a non-issue unless
you’re speaking about a very very small portion of the community and certain people who are not following the straight
path and the current system and there it’s an issue. But in general, it’s not even like, it’s obvious, you don’t
serve in the military. – Right. – The current projections for the Haradim are that the rate of growth is very high. So if it continues as is, their proportion in the total Jewish population in Israel will increase. I can even volunteer a few numbers. We have now about 10 to 12%
of the Jewish population. In 2030, it might become closer to 20, 25% of the total population, Jewish. And in 2050, 2060 it might
be as high as one third of the total Jewish population in Israel. – There is no longer a
secular religious divide here. What does exist, very strongly, is an ultra-Orthodox everyone else divide. – The Haredi population
today continues to have a very low rate of participation
in the labor force. And men tend to study all of their life. The question is whether there will be a change in the propensity
of Haredi to go to work. If more Jewish men will go to work they will earn more and so the situation of their families will improve. There will be less of a
need of a public subsidy. Maybe they will have more contacts with the rest of the Israeli population. – In this study when we asked people can Israel be both a
democracy and a Jewish state? All four groups said it can be both a democracy and a Jewish state. And it was, in fact, a majority
of every group saying yes. However, what happens when there is a contradiction between
(speaking a foreign language) Jewish law and the
principles of democracy? That’s when Israeli public opinion splits. And it splits very neatly along the lines of these four groups. With the Haradim taking
one side of the issue and saying Halakha should take precedence. And an equally large share of the Hiloni taking the opposite side of the issue and saying democracy
should take precedence. – Halakha and democracy, or pluralism, contradict a lot of times. When you’re talking about
gay marriage for example there’s no way that Haradim
or any religious group in Israel can agree with
that and go for that. It just can’t happen. And the whole pluralism movement is accepting everyone and
everything the way they wanna be. It can never work. – It can be tolerance
for everything you want and you could tell people you can choose whatever you wanna do et
cetera et cetera et cetera. But if you don’t stick, if you don’t stick to certain rules or basic rules your kids won’t be Jewish anymore. – We can’t, as Haradim,
we can’t agree to have everything run here on Shabbat just like it’s another regular day because Shabbat, we
believe, and that’s a belief that we really like base our religion on that Shabbat is a rest day, and we all grew up on the stories of our great grandfathers coming to America after the Holocaust and
having to work on Shabbat. And they worked Monday through Thursday and they would get fired every week for refusing to work on Shabbat. The children sing the songs. It’s like part of, they grow
up with that from age zero. So that’s not something
that can ever, ever work. – Someone coming from the secular tribe, which of course, obviously
I would be representing, has more in common or has a lot in common from a secular professional,
Arab professional living in a village up
north than they would have if you think about the core values from a Haradi from Nesharim because if you ask me and you ask
my fellow Arab citizen where do you put democracy? We put democracy first. – We’ve got a large and growing minority in Israel that is first
of all Arab Israeli and who don’t identify
with the ethos of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. They want more democracy less Jewish. We also have another fast
growing minority population of ultra-Orthodox Jews. And they also don’t
identify with the ethos of the majority which sees Israel entwined as the foundation of Israel
as Jewish and democratic. And they want to see an Israel that is more Jewish and less democratic. – Israel aspires to be a
Jewish democratic state. Some have quipped that well, it succeeds. It’s democratic for the Jews
and it’s Jewish for the Arabs. So the Arab minority in this country understandably views the attempt to make the government and the
state and the symbols Jewish as putting them in an inferior position. – How can you talk about a country that really wants to be a democracy and there’s of course a
big contradiction between being democratic and being a Jewish state. I can’t say that I’m an Israeli since Israel considers
itself as a Jewish state. I am not Jewish. – Obviously the Palestinian
question remains big and it’s hard to kind of
take it out of the picture because it’s the big elephant in the room in their relationship. But let’s set it aside for a minute. It’s hard to think of, you know, the relationship between Arabs and Jews except in historical perspective, it’s not just the structure of the state. And I mean by that both the inception of the conflict itself that has developed a certain sense of identity. I mean citizenship is first
and foremost about identity. – The religious spectrum
of Jews in Israel, where people are on that spectrum, is also associated with where they stand on the peace process and
their views of Israeli Arabs and of Palestinians. – It comes as no surprise that as you move to the religious right you also move to the political right. So, we’re talking not about
religious identity alone, we’re talking about
religious identity politics. – The turn to the right, the
rise of ultra nationalism, the expansion of religious groups, the focus more on Jewish identity, that has certainly created more tension over the past decade then we, you know. After a period of what had looked really promising in the 1990’s. – Of all the questions
that we ask in this survey the one that by far got the
most media attention in Israel was the question where we asked Israelis whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the statement, Arabs
should be transferred or expelled from Israel. I think many people were surprised. Particularly people on the left side of the Israeli political spectrum, were surprised and frankly disconcerted. – (Speaking a foreign language) – This question asked for a gut reaction. It did not probe support
for or opposition to any specific policy proposal. We found that statistically there is a tie in the Israeli public when it comes to agreement or disagreement
with this statement. 48% agree, 46% disagree. Statistically that’s the same thing. But the division on this
issue in the Israeli public mirrored the political
rifts we see in the country and those are strongly
tied to the religious rifts we see in the country. – I think the Pew Survey did
a very great public service in that it raised the level of awareness in front of these polarization
trends within the Jewish camp and between the Jewish and Arab camps. It’s probably a call to those in charge to think very carefully
about what they say and where they lead the
community and the country. – I think that despite the growing gaps between secular and religious
on political issues, I still believe that a two
state solution is viable. And what we’ve seen over and over again is that before there is a concrete possibility for a peace agreement, a majority of Israelis
are always skeptical and don’t believe peace is possible. The moment there is a
real offer on the table the numbers reverse. – We have really kind
of a universal pessimism and that has been increasing. And it’s in fact reached people who had been optimists in the past. At the same time, when you ask people, okay let’s put the assessment
aside for a minute, what if I were to bring it
to state solutions tomorrow? Would you take it? And you still have a majority
who say yes I’d take it. – With good intentions we can
find solutions for everything. With bad intentions, we will
be worried about everything and we will be in this, we will be sinking in
such a situation forever. – Inside Israel we have
a new emerging country where there is no majority, minority but about four groups
which share this land and have to share the understanding that no one’s going away. No one, tomorrow morning,
is going to be shifted, transferred, all of a
sudden find a new homeland. We are here together and
we have to figure it out. (soft music)

13 thoughts on “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society

  1. Can't you find this among all social groups in most countries? We were talking about social groups in my sociology

  2. The problem of Israeli society is simple:

    JEREMIAH 6:16-19: "
    16 Thus saith the Lord,
    Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the OLD PATHS , where is the
    good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But
    they said, We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. 18 Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. 19 Hear,
    O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of
    their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my
    law, but rejected it.

  3. There are few clearer examples of the slow poison that religious fundamentalism is to modern societies. Politicians who court fundamentalists are short-sighted and are playing with fire. Fundamentalists sow the seeds of their own destruction.

  4. If we believe in kindness and make it our divine religion , we will never live in troubles such as racism . We are all humans . Why we judge people by their religion . Yes we have to be secular looking for the truth , but that does not means to take science as a religion . Kindness , love , harmony , peace and equality should be our goal and religion .

  5. This proves diversity does not work. G-d warned the Israelites to NOT allow people who worship other G-ds to live among them and to NOT marry outside the religion lest these people cause them to worship other G-ds. And NO, Muslims do not worship the same G-d as the Israelites. They allowed Mohammad to take G-ds place. Christians worship a pagan religion. DIVERSITY FAIL. ALL JEWS MUST FOLLOW THE SAME LAWS AND THE SAME G-D. SPLITTING INTO DIFFERENT SECTS WILL NOT WORK AND G-D WILL REJECT YOU. ONE TORAH, ONE LAW. WHEN MEN START CHANGING LAWS TO FIT MAN'S MIND, THEN THEY ARE NO LONGER G-DS LAWS. THEY ARE MANS. YOU CAN NEVER CHANGE THE LAW. NOT FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER.

  6. JUDAISM IS GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING CHRISTIANITY HAS GONE THROUGH. MANY DIFFERENT SECTS AND TYPES. ALL FOLLOW DIFFERENT RULES BUT STILL CLAIM TO WORSHIP THE SAME G-D. JUDAISM IS ON A SPIRAL INTO DEATH. IT IS BROKEN. THERE IS ONE G-D, ONE LAW. MAN CANNOT MAKE UP THEIR OWN LAWS OR INTERPRET THE WORD OF G-D. NO MAN, RABBI, PRIEST, OR PREACHER CAN ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM G-D'S WORD AND LAW. EACH JEW HAS TO DECIDE WHAT KIND OF JEW ARE THEY??? A REAL JEW??? OR A FAKE JEW???? THERE IS ONLY ONE KIND. NO EXCEPTIONS. NO RADICALS, NO REFORM, NO CONSERVATIVE, NO HASIDIC, NONE OF THOSE. ONE LAW, ONE G-D, ONE JUDAISM. LIKE IT OR GET OUT. G-D DOES NOT ACCEPT HALF OBEDIENCE . YOU EITHER OBEY OR YOU DIE. HAVE JEWS LEARNED NOTHING FROM READING THE TORAH?????

  7. ISRAEL HAS FAILED. DIVERSITY IS DESTROYING IT FROM WITHIN. A JEWISH COUNTRY CANNOT HAVE NON-JEWS OR RADICAL JEWS. THE TORAH IS ONE, G-D IS ONE, AND JEWS MUST BE ONE OR THEY WILL PERISH. HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING FROM READING THE TORAH OVER AND OVER AGAIN???? READ WHAT G-D DOES TO DISOBEDIENT JEWS. HE WARNED YOU. SO DO NOT CRY WHEN HE DESTROYS YOU.

  8. in MY opinion aslo after watching this documentary, religion is the only problem in israel, if u dont adapt u dont survive and stubborn israelis just cant do it on 11:19 best example u can have
    In the moment israelis will throw all their religious prejustice, there wont be many problems left in there

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