What Israel Can Teach the U.S. about Religious Pluralism and Tolerance

To many Americans, the fact that Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, like its maintenance of a separate school system for its Arab citizens, seems foreign, if not downright unsettling. But, argues Megan McArdle after a recent visit, it gives the country’s minorities something hard to find in other Western countries:

I spoke to Shadi Khalloul, a Maronite Christian activist in the Galilee who is working to revive Aramaic as the daily language of his community. He doesn’t want his community’s children to attend a separate school system for Arabs, true, but that’s because he wants a separate school system for their own identity.

Many governments that constitute themselves along ethno-religious lines oppress minorities, of course. But if a country protects the civil rights of minority citizens, as Israel generally does, it can offer the one thing that an aggressively secular liberal state can’t: easy preservation of the minorities’ own particularist identities, which tend to be lost in aggressively secular liberal nations as the minorities are more or less forcibly assimilated. . . . Israel is able to accommodate [such minorities] more tolerantly not despite its particularist self-definition but because of it. . . .

[T]he United States, a country that espouses tolerance as a prime virtue, has recently been struggling with how far to accommodate ancient and obdurately illiberal faiths—as when we catapulted almost immediately from “legalize gay weddings” to “force Christian bakers to make [gay couples’] wedding cakes.”

Thinking about the unrepentant ethno-religious identity of Israel, and of many Israeli minorities, and indeed of our own traditionalists, forces us to explore the limits of our self-proclaimed tolerance for dissenters. Which is why we need to grapple with that very different way of looking at faith.

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Read more at Washington Post

More about: Freedom of Religion, Israeli Arabs, Israeli Christians, Israeli democracy, Tolerance

 

The Israel-Jordan Peace Is a Strategic Success Not to Be Taken for Granted

June 26 2019

This fall will mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty between Jerusalem and Amman. Since then, there has been extensive military and security cooperation between the two countries, along with major economic benefits to both. Yet numerous joint projects suggested at the time of the treaty’s signing and over the intervening years have for the most part come to naught, and ordinary Jordanians remain deeply suspicious of their western neighbor. Joshua Krasna writes:

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Israeli Security, Jordan, Palestinians