Haredi Parties Are Considering the Separation of Religion and State

For the first time in many years, Israel’s ḥaredi parties are not included in the governing coalition. As a result, they are unable to stop the current government’s efforts to reform the chief rabbinate—which include measures currently before the Knesset that would break the rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher certification. Haviv Rettig Gur examines the response of ḥaredi leaders, focusing on those who have suggested the most radical of steps:

On Thursday morning, a startling column appeared in Mishpacha, the most-read ḥaredi weekly. Penned by the Jerusalem deputy mayor Haim Cohen, a longtime [affiliate of the Mizraḥi ḥaredi party] Shas, it carried the blunt headline: “Religion and State: Is It Time to Separate?”

Given the government’s new reforms, Cohen argued, and the resulting decline in ḥaredi control over religious standards, perhaps it’s time to consider dismantling the coercive state religious apparatus altogether. [But] a single column by a single ḥaredi politician isn’t the point. It is the response to it that signals a new disquiet within the community over the ḥaredi demand to control the country’s religious life. . . . [I]t wasn’t the usual run of liberalizing ḥaredi activists who have taken to discussing seriously the idea that religion and state should, for the first time, be separated in the state of Israel. It’s the mainstream.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Haredim, Israeli politics, Judaism in Israel, Religion and politics


Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship