I am not anti-religious; I have long had involvements with one or more synagogues and I even know how to “daven.” Yet I have long believed that Zionism would have had a truly revolutionary impact if it had succeeded in separating Jewish ethnic and cultural identity from the religion.
Instead, Israel has no civil marriage, a concession Ben-Gurion made to his Orthodox allies at a time when he thought it would have little bearing on the country. It is a cruel irony that a country mostly founded by militantly secular pioneers is so in thrall today to Orthodox nationalists and ultra-Orthodox extremists.
We reported last week on the problem of the Orthodox religious domination over how Jewish citizens marry and who they can wed in Israel. This more recent Ynet article provides but another outrageous example of over-zealous Rabbinical interference in the lives of Israeli Jews.
This is the summary at the top of this Ynet article (I’ve added the bracket):
“After producing all the necessary documents proving they are both Jewish, Rabbinate tells couple they cannot marry because husband-to-be is [allegedly] adopted and so his Jewishness cannot be verified. ‘I know I’m Jewish and I know I’m not adopted,’ says man.”
Thank you for highlighting one of the key problem areas in Israeli society. As you remarked it really is ironical that the modern state of Israel was founded by very largely irreligious, Socialist and Zionist Jews mainly from Eastern Europe, but today our religious brethren think they have the (God given) right to dictate to all and sundry.
One of the reasons I believe Ben Gurion made the historic concession was because Rabbi Fishman put it to him that the large and influential Yeshivot in Poland, Lithunia and elsewhere in eastern Europe had been destroyed by the Nazis (teachers and pupils).
Ben Gurion made the right decision to encourage the revival of orthodox institutions like yeshivot and Batei Din, but he could not have forseen the accummalation of power, numbers of adherents including votes, international influence through their colleagues mainly in the USA and western Europe, and the stranglehold on the rest of Israeli society you referred to.
It is intolerable that non-religious Jews or for that matter other Israelis can not be legally married, buried, divorced in their own country. Apart from the scandalous example you quoted, there have been several cases of “non-Jews” who have volunteered for the IDF, been killed in action and then refused burial in the “Holy land”.
This is one area where Meretz must lead the fight back against these people with an “Ayatollah” complex. If it is totally unacceptable for Israeli Arabs to throw stones at others and indeed some were killed by riot police counter action, then it is equally unacceptable for Haredi Jews to throw stones against their fellow citizens. It is perfectly correct for Israeli police to use the full force of police counter-measures to deter these hooligans from thinking they have any entitlement anywhere in Israel to use such violence.
The rule of law is invested in the state only, and everyone is equal before the law.