Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Daniel Elazar Papers Index

Jewish Political Thought

Israel as a Jewish State

Daniel J. Elazar

Beyond Israel's self-definition as a Jewish state, the question remains as to what extent Israel is a continuation of Jewish political history within the context of the Jewish political tradition. This article addresses that question, first by looking at the realities of Israel as a Jewish state and at the same time one compounded of Jews of varying ideologies and persuasions, plus non-Jews; the tensions between the desire on the part of many Israeli Jews for Israel to be a state like any other and the desire on the part of others for it to manifest its Jewishness in concrete ways that will make it unique. The article explores the ways in which the traditional domains of authority into which power is divided in the Jewish political tradition are manifested in the structure of Israel's political system, both structurally and politically; relations between the Jewish religion, state and society; the Jewish dimension of Israel's political culture and policy-making and how both are manifested through Israel's emerging constitution and the character of its democracy.

Built into the founding of every polity are certain unresolved tensions that are balanced one against each other as part of that founding to make the existence of the polity possible, but which must be resolved anew in every generation. Among the central tensions built into the founding of the State of Israel are those that revolve around Israel as a Jewish state.

Formally, Israel is built on the modern European model of centralized, reified statehood. In contrast, the weight of the Jewish political tradition, while emphasizing the importance of political independence for Jewish survival and fulfillment, is directed against that conception of statehood. Though rarely recognized for what it is, the Jewish political tradition still animates the attitudes of Jews towards political institutions, including states, more than they know. One tension in the minds of Israelis and others is between Israel as a modern European state and Israel as a continuation of traditional Jewish political aspirations and attitudes. This is an appropriate starting point for a consideration of Israel as a Jewish state.

Three other factors force the rejection of European conceptions of statehood in favor of a conception more appropriate to the Israeli situation: (1) Israel is the state of the Jewish people. (2) Israel is only one of the states in Eretz Israel. (3) Israel as a state is a compound polity. These factors lead us to search for an understanding of Israeli statehood appropriate to its conditions.

Statehood and the Jewish Political Tradition

Before examination of the three factors, a word is in order about the idea of statehood in the Jewish political tradition. The idea of the Jewish people living independently in their own land stands at the heart of that tradition. No matter how reckoned in the traditional sources, the fulfillment of the mitzvot in their completeness depends on the existence of a Jewish polity in Eretz Israel.1

Though vitally important to enable the Jewish people to fulfill the tasks for which they were commissioned by God, for the tradition the polity is a means to that end but not an end in itself. Classic Hebrew reflects this. There is no generic term for state in the Bible or the Talmud. The Hebrew term medinah, now used for state, appears in both; in the Bible it refers to an autonomous political jurisdiction (the equivalent of a Land in German or one of the fifty states of the United States), that is, a territory under a common din (law), whose identity is marked by having its own political institutions but not politically sovereign in the modern sense. In the Talmud, the term is used even more vaguely from a political perspective, as in medinat hayam, roughly translated as some distant jurisdiction. Only in modern times did medinah come to be used to describe a "sovereign state."2

Hebrew, and therefore the Jewish political tradition, has different terms for different political systems, each of which focuses on a particular relationship between governors and governed. Thus the rich political terminology of biblical Hebrew described relationships rather than "states," using terms such as edah (assembly), malkhut (kingship), mamlakhah (dominion--the term closest to state in the modern sense), and kahal (congregation--in its civil sense--the closest Hebrew generic term for polity).3

In the biblical view, peoples, nations, and languages have the kind of permanence as entities that states have in modern European political thought. What is not fixed for peoples is the form of regime or political structure under which they operate. Peoples, nations, and languages are concrete, hence they are permanent; states are abstractions, hence they are identified only as they are manifested as regimes.

The chief reason for the classic Jewish rejection of state sovereignty in its European form rests with the strong belief that ultimate sovereignty reposes in God alone and that humans exercise delegated powers under the terms of God's covenants which give the people an effective share in the exercise of sovereign powers. The edah is the primary delegatee of the power to govern the Jewish people, acting either as a whole or in conjunction with officers and institutions which it establishes under God's providence. Together, the edah, its officers, and God establish regimes through subsidiary covenants under the terms of the original covenant between God and Israel as embodied in the Torah. Under such a system there can be no reified state.

A state is a receptacle through which the true exercisers of sovereignty can establish a political order but has no life apart from them--something closer to a medinah in the biblical sense. That is why the most accurate term for describing the classic Jewish polity is edah, the term used to describe the polity established by Moses and Jewish communities in every subsequent age until the present.4 In contemporary Israel, the term has been distorted to acquire a new, misleading meaning of cultural subgroup within the Jewish people. In this context, the meaning of the expression am v'edah becomes more sharply focuses; the terms together combine the dual bonds linking the Jewish people, kinship (am), and consent (edah).

This political framework and orientation, which has its roots in the Bible, continued to be dominant in the Jewish political tradition, even during the years of exile. Even when outside authorities attempted to impose patterns of rule on the Jewish people or some segments of it, as in Babylonia, the Jews found ways at least to redefine those patterns in the set of relationships that is in accord with the political tradition. In the Middle Ages, when local communities had more autonomy, this framework and orientation was crystal clear in hundreds if not thousands of haskamot and takanot. The great debate of medieval Jewry as to whether communities can rule by majority decisions or require unanimity for their decisions to take effect shows this conception of the polity as edah.5

The Foundations of the World Jewish Polity

From the perspective of both historical Judaism and Zionism, Jews are members of a polity built around a covenantal community linked by a shared destiny, a promised land, and a common pattern of communications whose essential community of interest and purpose and whose ability to consent together in matters of common interest have been repeatedly demonstrated. In traditional terms, Judaism is essentially a theopolitical phenomenon, a means of seeking salvation by constructing God's polity, the proverbial "city upon a hill" through which the covenantal community takes on meaning and fulfills its purpose in the divine scheme of things. Jewish peoplehood has been the motivating force for communal life and creativity throughout the long history of the Jewish people. The power and pervasiveness of this force has certainly been demonstrated in our own time.

The Jewish polity is worldwide in scope but partially territorial. It is more than a state, although a state is an essential part of it. It is authoritative but only for those who accept citizenship within it. Many of its members share more than one political loyalty. It exists by virtue of a mystique, an orientation toward a future that looks to the redemption of mankind. Preeminently, the Jewish polity survives because of the will of its citizens and their active application of that will to carve out an area of autonomous existence in the midst of polities that would absorb or eliminate them. As it turns out, this is as true of Israel in its own way as it has been of the diaspora Jewish communities, just as it was true of all the earlier Jewish commonwealths.

Covenant and the Origins of the Polity

Since its beginnings, political science has identified three basic ways in which polities come into existence: conquest, organic development, and covenant. These questions of origins are not abstract; the mode of founding of a polity does much to determine the framework for its later political life.

Conquest can be understood to include not only its most direct manifestation, a conqueror gaining control of a land or a people, but also such subsidiary ways as a revolutionary conquest of an existing state, a coup d'etat, or even an entrepreneur conquering a market and institutionalizing his control through corporate means. Conquest tends to produce hierarchically organized regimes ruled in an authoritarian manner: power pyramids with the conqueror on top, his agents in the middle, and the people underneath the entire structure. The original expression of this kind of polity was the pharaonic state of ancient Egypt. It was hardly an accident that those rulers who brought the pharaonic state to its fullest development had the pyramids built as their tombs. Although the pharaonic model has been judged illegitimate in Western society, modern totalitarian theories, particularly fascism and nazism, represent an attempt to give it theoretical legitimacy.

Organic evolution involves the development of political life from its beginnings in families, tribes, and villages to large polities in such a way that institutions, constitutional relationships, and power alignments emerge in response to the interaction between past precedent and changing circumstances with the minimum of deliberate constitutional choice. The result is a polity with a single center of power, dominated by an accepted political elite, controlling the periphery, which may or may not have influence at the center. Classic Greek political thought emphasized the organic evolution of the polity and rejected any other means of polity-building as deficient or improper. The organic model is closely related to the concept of natural law in the political order. Natural law informs the world and, when undisturbed, leads to a kind of organic development, which, in turn, results in this model of the polity.

The organic model has proved most attractive to political philosophers precisely because, at its best, it seems to reflect the natural order of things. Thus it has received the most intellectual and academic attention. However, just as conquest produces hierarchically organized regimes ruled in an authoritarian manner, organic evolution produces oligarchic regimes, which, at their best, have an aristocratic flavor and, at their worst, are simply the rule of the many by the few. In the first, the goal is to control the top of the pyramid; in the second, the goal is to control the center of power.

Covenantal foundings emphasize the deliberate coming together of humans as equals to establish bodies politic so that all reaffirm their fundamental equality and retain their basic liberties. Polities whose origins are covenantal reflect the exercise of constitutional choice and broad-based participation in constitutional design. Polities founded by covenant are essentially federal in the original meaning of the term--whether they are federal in structure or not. That is, each polity is a matrix compounded of equal confederates who come together freely and retain their respective integrities even as they are bound in a common whole. Such polities are republican by definition, and power in them must be diffused among many centers or the cells within the matrix.

Recurring expressions of the covenant model are found among the Jews, whose people started out as rebels against pharaonic Egypt; the Swiss, whose people started out as rebels against the Holy Roman Empire; the and Dutch, Scots, and Puritans who rebelled against the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the Reformation era. In the modern epoch, republicans who were rebels against either hierarchical or organic theories of the state adopted the covenant model in one version or another. Frontiersmen--people who have chosen to settle new areas where there are no established patterns of governance in which to fit and who, therefore, have had to compact with one another to create governing institutions--are to be found among the most active covenanters.

What is common to all developed political societies rooted in the covenant idea is that they have drawn their inspiration proximately or ultimately from its biblical source. There is evidence of other contractual or oath-bound societies, whether in pagan Scandinavia or among various Native American peoples, and, of course, constitutionalism of various kinds exists outside the biblical tradition. But there is no evidence of any developed covenantal tradition that is not derived from the Bible.

The biblical grand design for humankind is federal in three ways. (1) It is based on a network of covenants beginning with those between God and man, which weave the web of human, especially political, relationships in a federal way--through pact, association, and consent. (2) The classic biblical commonwealth was a fully articulated federation of tribes instituted and reaffirmed by covenant to function under a common constitution and laws. Any and all constitutional changes in the Israelite polity were introduced through covenanting, and even after the introduction of the monarchy, the federal element was maintained until most of the tribal structures were destroyed by external forces. The biblical vision of the restored commonwealth in the messianic era envisages the reconstitution of the tribal federation. (3) The biblical vision for the "end of days"--the messianic era--not only sees a restoration of Israel's tribal federation, but what is, for all intents and purposes, a world confederation of nations, each preserving its own integrity while accepting a common divine covenant and constitutional order. This order will establish appropriate covenantal relationships for the entire world. Although it shares many of the same positive ends, it is the antithesis of the ecumenical world state envisaged by the Roman and Christian traditions, which see the merging of everyone into a single entity. The biblical-covenantal-Jewish view sees peoples preserving their own integrities within a shared whole.

Covenant theory emphasizes human freedom because only free people can enter into agreements with one another. It also presupposes the need for government and the need to organize civil society on principles that assure the maintenance of those rights and the exercise of power in a cooperative or partnership-like way.

Covenantal (or federal) liberty, however, is not simply the right to do as one pleases within broad boundaries. Federal liberty emphasizes liberty to pursue the moral purposes for which the covenant was made. This latter kind of liberty requires that moral distinctions be drawn and that human actions be judged according to the terms of the covenant. This does not preclude changes in social norms, but the principles of judgment remain constant. Consequently, covenantal societies, founded as they are on covenantal choice, emphasize constitutional design and choice as a continuing process.

Covenantal Foundations6

Jews have traditionally organized their communities into coherent bodies politic on a constitutional basis. In Jewish law, every Jewish community is a partnership of its members and does not exist apart from them. The ultimate constitutional basis of that partnership is the covenant that tradition records as having been made between God and the twelve tribes of Israel at Sinai. From that covenant came the Torah, the traditional constitution of the Jewish people. According to tradition, God's covenant with Israel established the Jewish people and founded it as a body politic, while at the same time creating the religious framework that gave that polity its raison d'etre, its norms, and its constitution, as well as the guidelines for developing a political order based on proper, that is, covenantal, relationships.

When Jews speak of Torah, they do not refer to the five books of Moses alone but to the Torah as it has grown, with the Talmud added to it, with the interpretations and commentaries added to both, in the light of the historical experience of the Jewish people. Until modern times, nobody disputed the traditional constitution. Jews may have argued over the interpretation of the Torah, but they accepted it as constitutionally binding. Out of that acceptance the Jewish polity was given constitutional form.

The covenantal approach not only informs and animates the Jewish polity but represents the greatest Jewish contribution to political life and thought. Ancient Israel transformed and perfected the vassal treaties through which the empire builders of west Asia secured the fealty of smaller peoples and their domains. Biblical adaptation of the forms of the vassal covenants involved a transformation of their purpose and content so great as to mean a difference in kind, not merely degree. A covenant was used to found a people, making their moral commitment to one another strong and enduring.

The Edah as a Classic Republic

The Jewish polity has followed the covenant model since its inception, adapting it to variegated circumstances in which Jews have found themselves over the millennia--as a tribal federation, a federal monarchy, a state with a diaspora, a congress of covenantal communities, a network of regional federations or confederations, or a set of voluntary associations.

The classic Hebrew name for this kind of polity is edah: the assembly of all the people constituted as a body politic.7 In Mosaic times edah became the Hebrew equivalent of "commonwealth" or "republic," with strong democratic overtones. The idea of the Jewish people as an edah has persisted ever since and the term has been used to describe the Jewish body politic in every period to the present. In this respect, the term parallels (and historically precedes) similar phenomena such as the landesgemeinde in Switzerland, the Icelandic althing, and the town meeting in the United States.

The characteristics of the original edah can be summarized as follows:

  1. The Torah is the constitution of the edah.
  2. All members of the edah, men, women, and children, participate in constitutional decisions of a founding character.
  3. Political equality exists for those capable of taking full responsibility for Jewish survival.
  4. Decisions are made by an assembly that determines its own leaders within the parameters of divine mandate.
  5. The edah is portable and transcends geography.
  6. Nevertheless, for it to function completely, the edah needs Eretz Israel.

These basic characteristics have been preserved with such modifications as were necessary over the centuries. Thus, in biblical times, taking full responsibility for Jewish survival meant being able to bear arms. Subsequently, the arms-bearing measure of political equality gave way to one of Torah study. Today the diaspora measure is contributing to the support of Israel, while arms-bearing is again the measure in Israel. The principles of assembly, leadership, and decision-making have remained the same although modes of assembling, leadership recruitment, and leaders' roles and responsibilities have changed from time to time. The portability of the desert-born edah is as notable a characteristic as is its attachment to Zion. The Torah has persisted as the edah's constitution albeit with changing interpretations.

Jewish republicanism is rooted in a democratic foundation based on the equality of all Jews as citizens of the Jewish people. All Jews must participate in the establishment and maintenance of their polity, as demonstrated in the Bible and in many other sources.8 Nor is that foundation merely theoretical; even where power may not be exercised on a strictly democratic basis, it is generally exercised in light of democratic norms.9

There are problems associated with the use of these terms, but they do help us understand that the Jewish polity is republican, because it is a res publica, a public thing or a commonwealth--a body politic that belongs to its members. The Jewish people is a res publica with a commitment to a teaching and law, which its members are not free simply to alter as they wish but must be maintained to be faithful to principles. The history of governance in the Jewish community has been one of swinging between the two poles of aristocratic republicanism and oligarchy. Though this is a perennial problem, the basic republicanism of the Jewish polity has worked equally well to prevent absolutism or autocracy.

The Jewish people rarely has had anything like dictatorship and then only locally and de facto under unique circumstances. Jews are a notably intractable people, even under conditions of statehood where coercion theoretically has been possible; hence, dictatorship has not been an acceptable regime for Jews. Nor have Jews in the past had anything like the open society of the kind envisaged by many contemporary Americans, in which every individual is free to choose his or her own "life-style." One of the reasons for this is that being Jewish and maintaining the Jewish polity has not been simply a matter of survival. It has also been a matter of living up to specific norms based on divine teaching and law, which establish the expectation that private and public life is to be shaped according to that teaching and law.

The Three Arenas of Jewish Political Organization

From earliest times, the Jewish polity has been organized in three arenas. Besides the edah, or national, arena, there are countrywide or regional, and local arenas of organization. The immediately local arena comprises local Jewish communities around the world of varying sizes, under varying forms of communal organization. Here the institutions that serve the Jewish community are organized and function.

Beyond the local arena, there is a larger, countrywide arena in which the Jews in particular regions, countries, or states organize for common purposes. The organizational expressions of that arena have included such phenomena as the Resh Galuta (Exilarch) and Yeshivot of Babylonia, the Vaad Arba Aratzot (Council of the Four Lands) of late medieval Poland, the State of Israel, the Board of Deputies of British Jewry, and the congeries of "national" (meaning countrywide) organizations of American Jewry framed by the Council of Jewish Federations. Fundraising for Israel, for example, depends on work on local communities but is generally organized in this second arena on a country-by-country basis.

The Three Ketarim10

Classically, authority and power in the Jewish polity has been divided and shared among three domains known in Hebrew as the three ketarim (crowns): the keter torah, the domain of the Torah; the keter kehunah, the domain of the priesthood; and the keter malkhut, literally, the crown of kingship but more correctly understood as the domain of governance. Each of these ketarim has functions it must perform if Jewish life is to be complete; hence, all are necessary for the survival and development of the edah. There has never been a time when the edah has not in some way functioned through the three ketarim. This is not separation of powers in the modern sense. The ketaric division is for comprehensive polities which embrace more than the organs of government as moderns understand them. Hence it comes prior to the executive-legislative-judicial division. Each keter combines a range of functions, institutions, and roles within its domain.

The keter torah embraces those who are responsible for the maintenance and application of the Torah, its laws, principles, and spirit in the life of the Jewish people and governance of the edah. Its roots go back to Moses, the first navi (prophet) and, as such, the first to bear that keter. After the age of prophecy, it passed to the soferim (scribes) and then to the Sanhedrin with its hakhamim (sages) and rabbis. In the traditional Jewish polity, its bearers functioned primarily as teachers and judges.

The keter kehunah embraces those who are responsible for the ritual and sacerdotal expressions of Jewish being, designed to bring Jews closer to Heaven individually and collectively (and hence to each other as Jews). From a public perspective, the functions of this crown play a major role in determining the fact and character of citizenship in the edah. Originally granted in the Torah to Aaron and his heirs, it is principally identified with the cohanim, but after the destruction of the Second Temple, its functions passed to other religious functionaries, principally hazzanim and, more recently, congregational rabbis, and generally were confined to the most local arena of Jewish organization.

The keter malkhut embraces those who are responsible for conducting the civil business of the edah: to establish and manage its organized framework, its political and social institutions, to raise and expend the money needed for the functioning of the edah, and to handle its political and civic affairs. Although, like the others, it is bound by the Torah-as-constitution, this keter has existed as a separate source of authority since the beginning of the edah, with its own institutions, responsibilities, and tasks. It is the oldest of the ketarim, emerging out of the patriarchal leadership of the original Israelite families. Later, it passed to the nesi'im (magistrates), shofetim (judges), and zekenim (elders), and then to the melekh (king). After the end of Jewish political independence in Eretz Israel, it was carried on by the Nasi (patriarch) in Eretz Israel and the Resh Galuta (exilarch) in Babylonia, the negidim of Spain, and the parnassim of the kehillot.

Thus, one of the ways in which Jews have attempted to prevent the corruption of their governing bodies is through the division of powers in the polity. This traditional pattern underwent many changes in the modern epoch but continued to be the basic model for the edah and its kehillot, if only out of necessity, because the classic division persisted in new forms. In the nineteenth century, the institutions of the keter kehunah became stronger at the expense of the others as Jewish life was redefined under modernity to be primarily "religious," even as Jews ceased to rely on the Torah as binding law. The synagogues became elaborate institutions and their rabbis the principal instrumentalities of the keter kehunah. Today, however, the Jewish polity is in the midst of a resurgence of the keter malkhut. This is principally because of the reestablishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, but it also reflects changes in the orientation of Jews in the diaspora.

The increasing narrowness of approach of the traditional bearers of the keter torah, coupled with the growing secularization of Jews which made that sphere and the sphere of keter kehunah less attractive to them, all contributed to this power shift. In the political world, that domain with the key to political power obviously had an advantage. In addition, as the other two domains were fragmented among different movements, each claiming to be authoritative, the keter malkhut became the only domain in which all groups would meet together, at least for limited political purposes, further strengthening the latter's position in the edah.

These shifts in power are only several of many in the history of the edah, part of the continuing and dynamic tension among the ketarim.

Israel as a Politically Independent Jewish State

Until the rise of Zionism, the concept of statehood found little place among those Jews concerned with political matters. Even in Zionist theory, there was a great hesitancy to advocate politically sovereign statehood in the modern sense. Some Zionist theorists, such as Ahad Ha'am in the secular camp, and various religious Zionists sought to avoid statehood, seeing it as dangerous or improper for Jews.11 Others, such as Martin Buber, who could see the need for political independence, developed a concept of statehood far more in keeping with the Jewish political tradition. Buber, indeed, drew heavily on that tradition to express his own radical conception of what a Jewish polity should properly be.12

Whatever Zionist theorists may have desired, events created a consensus that political independence was not only desirable but necessary if the Zionist enterprise were to succeed and the Jewish people survive. Today, with insignificant exceptions, Israelis and other Jews do not regret that turn in the pursuit of the Zionist goal. The only question is, What kind of statehood? Under what view or conception of the state?

In the early years of Israel's independence, a special effort was made to strengthen the institutions of the state. Ben-Gurion's well-known mamlakhtiut (statism) policy was part of that effort. While Ben-Gurion understood the limits of mamlakhtiut, the policy as it gained currency led to a tendency to idolize the state and its most attractive instrument, the Israel Defense Forces.13 Subsequent events have turned Israelis away from that emphasis and have led them to reconsider the question of what statehood means in a Jewish state.

The State of Israel also is sui generis in the Jewish world because it is a Jewish society functioning in a self-consciously Jewish manner in an epoch that witnessed the disappearance of the last of such societies in the diaspora. Thus, although most of its government institutions are adapted from liberal European models, they are described in Israel in a political terminology which invokes the slogans and symbols of earlier epochs of Jewish rule in Eretz Israel.

Moreover, the institutions of the Israel government, viewed comprehensively, can be seen to follow the classic threefold division of Jewish political institutions.

The government of Israel comprises the keter malkhut. Most analyses of Israel's political system stop with them but that is inaccurate. While the other ketarim are semi-independent, the government does play a role in authorizing, regulating, and funding them. An examination of the institutions of the polity shows how this is so. As a matter of historical continuity, their names either continue or are derived from biblical political terminology.14

Israel's supreme legislative body is the Knesset (assembly), a term first used to describe the Anshei Knesset Ha-Gedolah, the institution established in Jerusalem for the same purpose when the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile twenty-five hundred years ago. The term "knesset" itself is a synonym of edah developed out of the latter word's Aramaic equivalent. The Knesset is elected by universal adult suffrage on a party (miflagah, from the biblical peleg) list basis through proportional representation. Like the Anshei Knesset Ha-Gedolah, the Knesset has 120 members, equivalent to a minyan (quorum for constitutional and religious purposes) from each of the traditional twelve tribes, to symbolize that it represents the entire people.

The memshalah (government) -- a term signifying rule over equals, first used in the first chapter of Genesis for that purpose -- is organized as a cabinet with collective responsibility. It must have the confidence of the Knesset. The rosh memshalah is head of the government; rosh is used in a similar political context in the Bible. The members of the government are called sarim (ministers; singular: sar), the biblical term for the same kind of office. Most are also the political heads of misradim (departments; singular: misrad), a biblical term, used then in reference to the Temple organization. They include: otzar (treasury, a biblical term for the same office), hutz (foreign affairs), bitahon (defense), p'nim (interior), hinuch (education), and datot (religions).

While the leading figures in Israel's founding were secularist, at times even militantly secularist, they had to take into consideration the realities of Jewish existence and establish some official framework for the keter torah. This decision was taken in the 1920s during the pre-state period when the British Mandatory government, at the request of the leaders of the Yishuv, provided for the establishment of the dual Chief Rabbinate -- Sephardic and Ashkenazic -- with a supporting Council of the Chief Rabbinate and a system of local chief rabbis, also dual, attached to it. Within this framework the rabbinical courts (batei din rabbaniim), responsible for applying halakhah in matters of personal status, were established and continue to function.

These formal institutions of the keter torah became more or less bureaucratized with only occasional Chief Rabbis performing any kind of spiritual as well as halakhic function. The first Chief Rabbis -- the Sephardic Yaakov Meir and Ben-Zion Hai Uziel and the Ashkenazic Abraham Isaac Kook and Isaac Herzog -- were major figures with a dominant influence on the Yishuv and the Jewish people. Their heirs, whatever halakhic influence they have had, have not been of the stature to be able to continue to wield similar influence.

To round out the picture, the universities, formally secular institutions, not only enjoy the special status reserved by Jews for institutions of learning but have, from the first, been entrusted with the task of serving the Zionist enterprise. Several employ professors in certain fields who have become the principal articulators of non-Orthodox Jewish visions and teachings associated with them, especially Zionism. They are governed and supported by the Jewish people as a whole through their boards of trustees as well as by the State of Israel through the Misrad HaHinuch and the Council of Higher Education, and their own faculties and administrations.

The tasks of the keter kehunah are chiefly handled by the Misrad HaDatot plus different instrumentalities of the keter torah. Most are handled locally by the moetzot datiot (local religious councils), formal local authorities established to serve local religious needs such as kashruth inspection and supplementary support for synagogues, mikvaot (ritual baths) and the like.15

Local authorities in Israel can be understood as kehillot following a similar model. The terminology of local government parallels that of the state government. A municipality is either an ir (city, a biblical term), a moetzah mekomit (local council), or a moetzah azorit (regional council). The mayor is rosh ha'ir (head of the city) or rosh ha'moetzah (head of the council). The legislative body is always the moetzah. The other terminology is the same.16

The proportional representation system makes the Knesset broadly representative of the organized political groups in the polity. Every memshalah is a coalition of parties, established under a formal coalition agreement (heskem) negotiated by the parties. It must function in such a way as to allow its members much latitude and enable them to gain rewards for their constituents in return for participating in the coalition.17 The Knesset frequently functions more as a sounding board for the broader interests of Israel and the Jewish people than as a legislative assembly in the conventional parliamentary sense.

This fits well with the traditional role of the principal political assemblies of the Jewish people, which were designed to reflect the views of the edah and to reach an operative consensus on issues rather than simply legislate. The memshalah is responsible for formulating legislation and policy that can be modified by the Knesset, but are rarely rejected unless the responsible ministry has utterly failed to do its homework. The Knesset exercises most of its power through its committee system, something uncharacteristic of most parliaments but a classic aspect of congressional government. Committees are the source of such independence as the Knesset has vis-a-vis the memshalah and are so structured as to give the opposition members significant weight so that they will help guarantee that independence.

In the local arena, the law was amended in the late 1970s to institute direct election of mayors. This could have led to the introduction of a presidential system in the local arena, with the mayor substantially independent of his council and with nearly full authority to control the executive branch. In fact, the weight of tradition has led mayors to organize coalitions based on the distribution of seats in their local councils in a manner like the system in the state arena. The relationship between the Knesset and memshalah and council and executive is best described as that of two unequal congressional bodies that nevertheless check and balance each other.

Israel is formally a secular, democratic state, the only one in the Middle East besides Turkey, but its calendar and rhythm are deliberately Jewish in the same way that the calendars and rhythms of the states of the Christian world are Christian, and of the Muslim world, Muslim. The Sabbath and Jewish holidays are official days of rest in Israel, albeit on social rather than religious grounds. Public and government bodies display Jewish symbols, whether mezzuzot on every doorpost in every public building or Hanukkah lights on top of every city hall at the appropriate season. The Israel Defense Forces, El Al - the national airline, and all other public institutions maintain Jewish dietary laws and an agreed-on modicum of Sabbath observance. Hebrew is the official and principal language of the country (Arabic is also an official language and English a recognized one). Because language is the principal bearer of culture, it strengthens the Jewish cultural identity of the state. Even the most secular Israeli public figures use biblical and talmudic expressions in their speeches and discussions as a matter of second nature.

Israel as a State of the Jewish People18

All the evidence indicates that a very large majority of the Jews of Israel view it as the state of the Jewish people. Every coalition agreement forming a government reaffirms this view as the official policy of the government and the state. True, a small but vocal minority rejects this understanding. But no matter how vocal, it is small and appears to be growing smaller, having reached its high point in the late 1950s and early 1960s when mamlakhtiut was also at its apex. The trend toward the separation of Israel from the Jewish people was strong then and had at least the latent sympathy even of much of the establishment.

The majority, who view Israel as the state of the Jewish people, are of two orientations: those who see the Jewish people of Israel as practically coterminous with the Jewish people and those who see the state as the center of a larger people. The first group is mindful of the existence of the diaspora but considers it to be merely an appendage of the state, probably transitory, either because diaspora Jews will be compelled to move to Israel sooner or later because of anti-Semitism or because they will assimilate into the societies in which they are located. From this perspective, practically speaking, the Jews who count are the Jews of Israel.

Those in the second group not only recognize that the diaspora will continue to exist for the foreseeable future, but that Israel has only one quarter of the Jews in the world while the largest Jewish community, that of the United States, has over two million more Jews than the Jewish state. They argue that, because Israel is the only independent Jewish state and is the focal point of Jewish tradition, it is central to Jewish existence and far more important than mere numbers would indicate. However, they are also prepared to see it as one unit in a polity that has others.

The second view is more accurate. Even if weakened by assimilation, at least some diaspora communities will continue to be organized and powerful in their own right. This is not to suggest that such communities will be independent of Israel; to the contrary, they are strengthened by Israel (just as the reverse is true). The Jewish world is too interdependent for any other course, as a body politic its parts interact to strengthen one another. Perhaps ironically, some diaspora communities will be strengthened by Israeli yordim (emigres), some of whom have assumed important positions in those communities. Thus Israel is both a Jewish state sui generis and a Jewish community related to other Jewish communities on what could be considered a federal basis. Moreover, most Israeli Jews see the fostering of that relationship as one task of the state.

The principal institutional manifestations of this relationship are the mosdot leumi'im, national institutions functioning in the state's territory. In addition to the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, responsible for aliyah and the settlement of the land and the Zionist education of Jews in Israel and outside, and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), responsible for land development wherever the Israel Lands Authority is not empowered to act, there are other national institutions. Technically, Bank Leumi, as the bank of the World Zionist Organization, is one, as is El Al, which is jointly owned by the state and the Jewish Agency and is known as the national airline. The Hebrew University and the other universities, a major share of whose funding and boards of governors are drawn from the Jewish community worldwide, and the National Library on the Hebrew University campus are also.

The relationship between the Jewish Agency and the State of Israel was institutionalized in the 1952 covenant between the World Zionist Organization and the state, ratified by the Knesset. Through the Agency and its related organizations, the Jewish people undertake settlement, social, and educational projects throughout Israel, in rural and urban areas and often in cooperation with the local authorities. The different bodies have regional and local offices throughout the country that serve local populations as if they were government agencies.19

The relationship between the state, the Agency, and the universities has been institutionalized through the state's Council for Higher Education. Budgeting and policy-making are shared by the Council, the universities' "national" governing boards, and each university's senate. These are roughly the equivalent of state, federal, and local bodies, if one were to translate them into political terminology. Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Ben-Gurion Universities were founded by their municipalities, which continue to make their contribution as well. The others also get some support from the budgets of the local governments in whose jurisdictions they are located.

The Israeli government also seeks to institutionalize the relationship between Israel and the diaspora communities through common organizations and associations structured along functional, professional, ideological, and social lines. So, too, Israelis are represented in many world Jewish bodies through a network of nongovernmental organizations functioning in the state, such as the Israel section of the World Jewish Congress, the Israel Council of the World Zionist Organization, and the like.

The Law of Return guarantees every Jew (except those fleeing criminal prosecution) the right of entry into Israel and immediate citizenship; in effect it obligates the state and local governments to provide all services to all Jewish immigrants from the moment of their settlement. (Because of the dominant political culture, such services and benefits are extended immediately to all those accepted as residents of the state.) There is much misunderstanding about the Law of Return. Israel has immigration laws like those of other countries, with permits issued upon application and naturalization following in due course. However, because Israel is considered the state of the Jewish people, Jews enter as if they were engaging in interstate immigration in the American manner. Similar laws hold true in other countries for those considered their nationals even if born outside their borders.

Israel in the Context of World Jewry

Sometime between 1946 and 1949, the postmodern epoch began. For the Jewish people, the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel provided the pair of decisive events that marked the crossing of the watershed into the postmodern world. In the process, the entire basis of the Jewish polity was radically changed, the locus of Jewish life shifted, and virtually every organized Jewish community was reconstituted in some way. The restoration of the Jewish state added a new factor to the edah, creating a new focus of Jewish energy and concern precisely at the moment when the older foci had reached the end of their ability to attract most Jews. As the 1967 crisis demonstrated decisively, Israel was not simply another Jewish community in the constellation but the center of the world for Jews.

In the diaspora, the centers of Jewish life had shifted decisively away from Europe to North America. Immediately after the war, continental Europe ranked behind Latin America, North Africa, and Great Britain, as a force in Jewish life. Its Jews were almost entirely dependent on financial and technical assistance from the United States and Israel. Except for those in the Moslem countries that were soon virtually to disappear, the major functioning Jewish communities all had acquired sufficient size to become significant factors on the Jewish scene only within the previous two generations. In many cases, the original shapers of those communities were still alive, and many were still the actual community leaders. The Jewish world had been willy-nilly thrown back to a pioneering stage.

This new epoch is still in its early years, hardly more than a single generation old; hence, its character is still in its formative stages. Nevertheless, with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 the Jewish polity began a constitutional change of revolutionary proportions, inaugurating a new epoch in Jewish constitutional history. For the first time in almost two millennia, the Jewish people were presented with the opportunity to attain citizenship in their own state. Israel's very first law (Hok HaShevut -- the Law of Return) specified that every Jew had a right to settle in Israel and automatically acquire Israeli citizenship.

To date, only a fraction of the edah have taken advantage of Israel's availability. Most continue to live in the lands of the diaspora of their own free will. Hence the dominant structural characteristic of the edah continues to be the absence of a binding, all-embracing political framework, although it now has a focus. The State of Israel and its various organs have a strong claim to preeminence in fields that touch on every aspect of Jewish communal life. The Israeli leadership have argued consistently that Israel is qualitatively different from the diaspora and hence its centrality must be acknowledged. The American Jewish leadership, in particular, have taken the position that Israel is no more than first among equals. Nevertheless, the reestablishment of a Jewish state has crystallized the edah as a polity, restoring a sense of political involvement among Jews and shaping a new institutional framework in which the business of the edah is conducted.

The diffusion of authority and influence which continues to characterize the structure of the edah and its components has taken various forms in the new epoch. The keter malkhut has been transformed into a network of single and multipurpose functional authorities, most of which do not aspire to do more than serve their particular functions, but all of which acknowledge the place of the State of Israel at the fulcrum of the network. The keter kehunah has become a conglomeration of synagogue movements and their rabbinates, who are mainly responsible for ritual and pastoral functions. Each manages--independently--various ritual functions in a manner it deems appropriate to its own traditions, perspectives, and environment. That each of these movements has established a framework with worldwide aspirations, such as the World Union for Progressive Judaism and the World Council of synagogues, merely underlines the new organizational character of the edah.

Sectoral segmentation is most pronounced in the keter torah. Contemporary Jews take their cues in this domain from a kaleidoscopic spectrum of authorities. Their range stretches from the Jewish professors and scholars who influence contemporary Jews' understanding of what is expected of them as Jews to the rabbinical leadership of the Conservative and Reform camps, who may use the traditional devices for ruling on matters of Torah but often in untraditional ways; to the heads of the very traditional yeshivot and the rebbes of various emigre Hassidic communities who have reestablished themselves in the principal cities of Israel and the United States from which they have developed multicountry networks.

The fragmentation of the keter torah is both a reflection and an expression of the absence yet of a clear cut, commonly accepted constitutional basis for the entire edah. The tendency toward a wide variety of interpretations of the Torah which emerged during the modern epoch, has now become exacerbated. It is a sign of the times that if the Torah is to be included in the definition of the constitution, it has to be reinterpreted for a majority of Jews. The reality is that the norms by which Jews live their lives are interpreted through various prisms, of which the traditional prism is now only one. Still, it seems that most Jews perceive the Torah to be a constitutional referent in some way.

This fragmentation is further reflected in the multiplicity of camps and parties which exert influence on the life of the edah and its constituents. Broadly speaking, the principal camps can be termed the Orthodox (modern and ultra) and the Masorati (traditional) who see themselves as continuing the ways of the Pharisees, the Liberal religious, and the Neo-Sadducees. The last includes Israelis seeking to express their Judaism through Israeli Jewry's emerging civil religion--Zionists--and those diaspora Jews who find their best means of Jewish expression in the communal institutions. These camps are separate but not mutually exclusive. The Mizrahi Party, for instance, straddles the Zionist and the Orthodox camps, viewing its Zionism as one expression of its Orthodoxy. Increasingly, too, do the Conservative (Masorati) and Reform (Liberal) movements find themselves linked with Zionism. At the same time, the Neturei Karta, the secular Zionists, and the surviving classical Reform elements remain separated in their respective camps.

During the first generation of Israeli statehood, the keter torah, while institutionally present, was notably weak in matters of Israeli governance. The religious parties were either peripheral, as in the case of the ultra-Orthodox, or reflections of a slightly more Pharisaic version of the Labor-dominated keter malkhut, as is the case of the religious Zionists. Indeed, this writer was even led to question whether his theory that every Jewish polity had to have an active keter torah would continue to be valid in the postmodern, secular age. Then in the 1980s the power of one expression of the keter torah unexpectedly burst forth on the Israeli political scene with renewed energy and force. This new burst of energy came from the haredim, most of whom had remained relatively apathetic toward the politics of the state they barely recognized prior to 1981. Then they discovered the benefits of involvement in Israeli politics, both to protect the manifestations of adherance to Orthodox Judaism by the state and its institutions and to gain financial support for their growing population and its institutions.

Because of the virtual tie between the two major parties, the small ultra-Orthodox parties acquired a role in the balance-of-power beyond the wildest dreams of the religious Zionist parties and were able to determine, if not dictate, which of the two large parties would be able to form a governing coalition. Of course the force and visibility of their demands and the degree to which their respective councils of sages and rebbes determined the direction in which their votes would be cast catapulted the keter torah into the Israeli political arena with new force.

Israel as a State in the Land of Israel

The present State of Israel, with or without the territories occupied as a result of the Six-Day War, does not encompass the entire land of Israel, what Aryeh Eliav--noted for his willingness to cede the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 to a Palestinian state--has referred to as "the land of the twelve tribes."20 Recognizing this does not mean espousing irredentism. The historical record shows that, even in the heyday of Jewish national existence in the land, it was more common than not for the land to be divided among several polities. Only the Davidic and Hasmonean empires briefly succeeded in bringing the whole of Eretz Israel under a single Jewish government, at a price that few Israelis would wish to pay. Thus, although reestablishing Jewish national existence in the land should be seen as a proper exercise of the Jewish people's religious and historical rights, complete redemption of the land may well be, in traditional religious terms, "forcing the end," that is to say, attempting more than can be achieved through human agency alone.

That the State of Israel embraces less than the Land of Israel has several important implications. First, there is a difference between the religious commitment to the land and loyalty to the state; the two are not identical. A Jew should love Eretz Israel in its entirety beyond the boundaries of the State of Israel. From a religious perspective, a good Jew must be committed to the state for what it is but should not make that commitment monistic; it is part of one's multiple commitment to the land, the people, the Torah, and God. This further reduces the tendency to view the state as an end in itself. Many secular Jews have emphasized, mistakenly, love of state as the equivalent of love of country. Religious Jews have not had that problem to the same extent, though some have also been susceptible to it.

Recognizing that Eretz Israel must presently be shared with another people does not require Jews to give up their love for it. Perhaps the day will come when peace permits the settlement of Jews in all parts of the land, even outside the territories embraced by the State of Israel. Even if those Jews are citizens of another state, the difference in their relationship to the land will be there. That is why Jordan excludes Jews as residents--out of (misplaced) fear for the consequences of that attachment.

Israel as a Compound Polity21

Many students of the Israeli political system have been misled by the apparent simplicity of the state's government. For those familiar with Western European and American institutions, where polities are well-nigh territorially based, government is organized fairly simply on two or three levels or planes (state and local, or federal, state, and local)' where the greatest complexity is in the overlapping of local governments, the Israeli political system is complex, in that it typifies the region in which it is located and the people it serves.

The State of Israel is a compound in several ways. First, although conceived as a Jewish state, it is also compounded of several different ethnoreligious minorities besides the Jewish majority: Muslim Arabs, Christians, mostly Arab, divided into several churches; Druse; Bahai; Circassians; and Samaritans, each with its own socioreligious structure and legal status, institutional frameworks, and government support. In this respect, Israel is but a more enlightened example of a phenomenon among all Middle Eastern states: they have ethnic minorities that either must be accommodated in this way (as was once true in Lebanon), severely repressed (as in the case of the Kurds in Iraq), expelled (as were the Jews in several Arab states), or destroyed (as were the Armenians in Turkey). In a sense, this represents a partial adaptation of the millet system of Ottoman times and earlier, in which each group was constituted as a separate community with internal autonomy.

Among the minorities, religious belief and practice is high and even among the Jewish majority it is significant, with perhaps one-fourth of the population quite religious in practice and another 40 to 50 percent selective observers of Jewish tradition. Even many of the so-called secular Jews expect to express their Jewishness through certain religious symbols and accept the institutionalization of the Jewish religion as befitting a Jewish state. This gives the institutions of the keter torah and keter kehunah added authority and power.

The religious communities have their own institutional structures, recognized, and in many cases, chosen under state law because they provide state-supported services. Thus each religious community has its own religious courts whose judges hold commissions from the state on the basis of qualifications determined by each religious community. They are selected by the appropriate bodies of each religious community under procedures provided by state law. These courts administer the religious laws of their community, each of which has its own legal system for matters of personal status. As understood by the Knesset and the Israeli Supreme Court, religious law stands in relationship to the secular law of Israel roughly as state law stands in relationship to federal law in a federation with a dual legal system. That is to say, it is distinct, tends to be exclusive in its sphere, but is held to certain national tests in its application.22

For the state, these religious groups obtain their powers through state law, but for the religious communities their powers flow directly from God and their law represents Divine will. For them (and this is true for the Jewish religious authorities as much as for any of the others), the state should have only a minimal role in determining their powers other than that to which they are willing to acquiesce. It would be correct to estimate that one-third of Israelis hold the religious law of their communities in higher regard than the law of the state, including a small group of Jews, perhaps several hundred, who reject state law altogether.

The Jewish community in Israel is compounded of communities of culture and communities of interest. There are two kinds of communities of interest: those with a religious or ideological base, usually referred to as movements, and those whose concerns are primarily with the management of power or the securing of economic or social goals. These communities of interest are reasonably well known, although perhaps too little attention has been paid to how they relate to each other and have since the beginning of the Zionist enterprise. Thus the different groups of socialist Zionists, each with its ideology, began to erect their settlements and institutions in the country. Paralleling them were Zionists with a liberal (in the European sense) ideology and others whose ideology was primarily derived from traditional religion, ranging from religious socialists who based a modern collectivist ideology on ancient religious sources, to the religious right that would not accept any kind of secular behavior in the state-to-be.

Each of these movements, except the extreme religious right (which has its own comprehensive organization) and Communist left, sought to create a comprehensive range of institutions, a kind of nonterritorial state of its own within the framework of the Zionist effort. They also wanted the effort to succeed, so they federated in roof organizations and institutions through which they could pursue the common objective, even while contesting with one another about the shape of the state to come and the vision that would inform it. This federation of movements became the basis of the party system, which organized and informed Israel's political system.23

The transition from the settlement stage when ideological democracy was dominant to a stage of rootedness when territoriality asserts itself has since considerably transformed the system. The original consociational framework has given way to one in which the parties are no longer comprehensive nor do they seek to be. Nevertheless, the state's institutional infrastructure continues to reflect those prestate federal arrangements through the party control of even ostensibly neutral government offices, state and municipally owned companies, cooperatives, and voluntary bodies which are allocated by party no less than in the overtly political institutions.24

Today, as in the past, the country is divided into three "camps": the Labor camp, the National (as the heir of the earlier civil--in Hebrew, ezrahi) camp, and the religious camp.25 With all the changes that have taken place in recent years, including the great weakening of concern with parties and ideologies in the Israeli body politic, these three camps persist. They persist partly for party political reasons and partly as a reflection of the real divisions that separate Israel's political activists, even if they are unideological.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the three camps do not relate to one another on a left-right continuum but stand in something like a triangular relationship to one another. For a long time, preoccupation with European models prevented students of Israeli politics from seeing that there never was a time when Israel, and the Zionist movement before it, did not operate on that basis. Thus for certain purposes, each camp is left or right depending on what aspect of its particular Zionist vision is involved.

The camps are divided into parties, in some cases along left-right lines, often antagonistic to one another. The size of each camp is not fixed, either in relation to the total population or to other camps, but whatever the fluctuations, the camps persist. There persistence is reflected in the stability of camp (as distinct from party) allegiance in Knesset elections.

At one time, almost all services provided citizens were provided through the parties, or, for Labor, through the Histadrut, which united the Labor camp. Again the analogy to a federal system is apt. Just as in a federal territorial polity one must be a resident of a state to avail oneself of the services of the polity, so, too, in prestate Israel it was necessary to be linked to a party or camp.

With the establishment of the state, the government took over more and more of the services, beginning with the military services (until 1948, the movements actually had separate paramilitary formations), continuing with the schools (which were divided into trends to accommodate the different social, political, and religious attitudes within the Yishuv), and most social services. The parties or camps, however, still control sports (teams in all league sports, for example, are organized by party, although the divisions have become meaningless now that the players are recruited strictly by ability), health insurance, ordinary medical facilities, and banking. Even those functions that have been absorbed by the formal institutions of government maintain an informal division by party key for employment purposes.

Today these manifestations of the old divisions are diminishing. More and more services are provided neutrally by the state or local governments or, more often, through cooperative arrangements involving the two. Party influence is strongest in the government structure and primarily touches those who pursue public careers rather than the public at large, although in a government-permeated society this is a significant bastion of party strength.

The raison d'etre for many of the original ideological divisions has so weakened that only in the religious camp do ideological justifications remain strong enough to create demands of prestate intensity, and they are accommodated by allowing parallel institutions in many fields--schools are the best example. The expectation is that, aside from the division between the strictly religious and the non- or not-so religious, the ideological divisions will become weaker unless there is a strong upsurge of secular ideology but not necessarily disappear. In part, they are being replaced by new issue and cultural orientations that continue to give each camp its identity but without the earlier institutional apparatus.26

Similarly, those communities that acquired a primarily territorial identity such as cities and towns are becoming increasingly important as the polity makes the transition from its ideologically rooted founding to being more settled. Whatever the criticism sometimes raised against territorially based communities, it is generally recognized that the territorial expression of interests is natural to any society and is reenforced by the strong Zionist desire to achieve greater rootedness in the country. The political parties may oppose the shift to territorially based representation on ostensibly ideological grounds, but they do so primarily because of self-interest, to protect their power bases.

Circumstances have led to the emergence of a state that is more or less organized to accommodate some of the complexities of its population but in a formal structure borrowed from another context. That structure goes against the grain of most of the realities of the Israeli society and politics and has had to be accommodated to those realities by a heavy reliance on extralegal methods. The mismatch has led to an increasing impairment in the governance of the state, of which one manifestation is a tendency to ignore the law to make things work.27

Although something can be said for having allowed the system to develop pragmatically, as it has, focusing on the relationships desired in each instance rather than in the formalities of the structure, a point comes where structure is crucial, if only because of how it influences relationships. Israel has now reached that point, evidenced by the demands for structural reform that abound as many Israelis have begun to perceive, even dimly, that the structure of their governing institutions does not square with their expectations as citizens. The diehard resistance to those structural changes by those in power only adds weight to the evidence.

Much of the structure also goes against the grain of the Jewish political tradition. This is not readily perceived by a population that remains unaware of that tradition, even though it is the effect of the behavioral aspects of that tradition on a structure derived from nineteenth-century European models that has led to the mismatch. Nor are Israelis particularly aware that their polity is compounded. Even those who would be, for the most part look at the system through glasses colored by nonindigenous ideologies or methodologies that lead them away from a proper perception of the reality in which they live. Thus many in the religious camp have not come to grips with the pluralistic compound in the state, the camps have not come to grips with the changed character of the emerging territorial democracy, and the Jewish majority is only beginning to come to grips with the existence of a substantial and growing Arab minority.

After the Six-Day War, the camps seemed to be diminishing as political as well as social factors in Israeli society. The movement from ideological to territorial democracy was predominant in the first generation of Israeli statehood (1948-1977). David Ben-Gurion led the way after 1948 in his emphasis on mamlakhtiut (statism) in place of the earlier political ideologies, state provision of public services previously provided by the parties or camps, and a shift from socialism to a quasi-state capitalism in the economic sphere for pragmatic reasons.28 But he merely prefigured and strengthened what is a natural phenomenon in any new society: the decline of the founding ideologies as the society takes shape and the founders are succeeded by later generations who are where they are because they were born there and not because they have chosen to be builders of a new society because of prior ideological motivation. Every new society has passed through a similar transformation.29

By the late 1960s, the new political leadership was, with a few exceptions, also nonideological, with leanings in one direction or another derived from the old ideologies, but basically pragmatic in orientation and concerned with new problems about which the old ideologies had little to say. Although the parties kept up some pretense of ideological commitment, almost everyone knew that this was merely a front designed to pay due obeisance to the halutzic spirit of the past. This was most true of the Labor Party, which had become a broad-based coalition of sectors and factions. It was least true of the religious parties which had living ideologies from which they drew, although there, too, the largest--the National Religious Party (NRP)--had become so pragmatic in practice that its ideology was only minimally relevant.

Hence, it was not surprising that after the Six-Day War, the emergence of new issues about the future of the administered territories and the negotiation of peace with the Arabs should lead to the breaking off of fringe elements from one camp and their movement to another, which had not previously happened in Israeli politics. That, plus the defection of many previously Labor voters to the Likud and the tendency of the young to vote Likud no matter how their parents voted, led many to believe that the camps were breaking down. Indeed, in time, the twin issues of land and peace generated their own partisan movements--Gush Emunim and Shalom Achshav--and moved to center stage in the electoral process.

The 1984 elections suggested that matters were not so simple. It is true that the old ideologies faded further, yet the camps reemerged around the new ones, two in particular: peace and the territories, and state and religion. Voter shifts and party divisions still were and are more likely within camps than across them. Thus the Labor camp embraces the Labor Party, Mapam (which broke its alliance with the Labor Party in 1984 rather than enter the national unity government) and Shulamit Aloni's Citizens' Rights Movement, a Labor Party breakaway now positioning itself as Israel's "new left."30

The Likud was founded as an amalgam of the two major parties of the civil (now national) camp--Herut and the Liberals--and acquired La'am in 1969, the one breakaway from the Labor camp that moved as a body across camps. In 1981, Tehiya broke away from Likud, yet remained in the same camp. So, too, did the smaller fragments: Morasha, Ometz, and Moledet, which broke away in 1984 and 1988. All were identified by voters as being fully within the national camp.

Ezer Weizman broke away from Likud to found Yahad in 1984, claiming to remain in the national camp. His later decision to join the Labor Party led to a negative response among his voters, who never expected such a turn of events. La'am subsequently merged fully with Herut as did both of the 1984 breakaways. As Herut became dominant within it, the civil camp became more nationalist and populist rather than liberal in character.31

Since the establishment of the state, the religious camp has won between twelve and eighteen seats in every election, with the number usually thirteen to sixteen. On one occasion, almost the entire camp was united; on others it was divided between two parties: the National Religious Party and Agudath Israel. Occasionally, Poalei Agudath Israel would run independently and win a seat. In 1984, the religious camp fragmented among five parties that together won thirteen seats. What is significant is that all five--the NRP, Agudath Israel, Matzad-Morasha, Sephardi Torah Guardians, and Tami--stayed within the same camp, however hostile the relationships among them. By 1988, Tami had disappeared and Matzad-Morasha returned to the NRP. The camp's fissiparous tendencies remained strong, however, as both the NRP and Agudat Israel split further, adding Meimad and Degel HaTorah. Nevertheless, the camp again reached its all-time high of 18 seats.32

If camps do not survive for ideological reasons, why do they? I would suggest that they have come to reflect different facets of Israel's emerging political culture, especially voter affinities in political expectations and style. Political scientists have referred to these as matters of "persuasion" rather than ideology--a somewhat vague set of orientations rather than a clear-cut doctrine specifying programs and goals.33 These differences in persuasion are still effective in shaping the configurations of Israeli politics and the limits of voter change. Such shifts as are taking place, among younger voters and Sephardim (the two groups overlap considerably), reflect a sorting out of persuasions because of generational change.

By competing within a shared political framework, the camps keep their very real differences in orientation from tearing the state apart. In this respect, they continue to be the mechanism for maintaining national unity that their Zionist founders intended. They are the institutional mechanisms for establishing, maintaining, and adjusting Israel's "social contract" (better termed "national compact"), linking the opposed groups within the polity in a kind of Hobbesian covenant of civil peace.

The Conflict of Cultural Inheritances

The political culture of Israel is compounded of several elements that have yet to become fully integrated. Three major political strands can be isolated. The most visible was the etatist political culture imported from eastern and central Europe by those of the pioneering generation who had learned to conceive of state and government in classical European terms and built into the state's institutions at every turn. Its four salient elements, for our purposes, are: (1) a strong statist-bureaucratic orientation, (2) a perception of public officials as standing in a superior relationship to the general public by virtue of their role as servants of the (reified) state, (3) expectations of heavy state involvement in the economic and social spheres as normal and even desirable, and (4) strong support for centralization of power. Political organization is expected to be centralized, hierarchical, and bureaucratic. While most of this went against the Jewish political tradition in every respect and against the ideology of the halutzim which emphasized participatory democracy in face-to-face communities and cooperative institutions, in the end it was their political cultural orientation of those who had assimilated European modes which shaped their expectations of the new state.

The second political cultural strand was also imported. Although primarily associated in the public mind with Jewish immigrants from west Asia and North Africa, it can be found among those European Jews who came to Israel directly from the shtetl (the Yiddish term for the east European townlet where the average Jew lived at the turn of the century) or a shtetl-like environment and were not previously acculturated to the larger European environment. This political culture also perceives the governing authority as a powerful force existing outside and independent of the people, but it sees government as more malevolent and more limited, the private preserve of an elite, serving the interests of that elite. Government is perceived personally as a ruler with whims rather than as the comprehensive and reified state of the first political culture. Individuals imbued with this political culture perceive themselves to be subjects of the state, not participating citizens. As subjects they seek to avoid contact with the government or anyone associated with it, insofar as possible, for safety's sake. When they must deal with officials, they usually take a petitionary approach, humbly requesting consideration of their needs and recognizing the superior power of the official without necessarily endorsing his authority. The state is not looked upon as a vehicle that provides services or social improvement. Instead the hope is that its role will be as limited as possible so that the rulers will interfere in the lives of their subjects as little as possible.

The third political cultural strand grows out of the indigenous political experience of the Jewish people in their own communities. It is civic and republican in its orientation and views the polity as a partnership of its members, who are equal citizens and who are entitled to an equitable share of the benefits resulting from the pooling of common resources. There is no reified state , nor do rulers rule by whim. The leaders of the community are perceived to be responsible to its members, who entrust the leaders with authority and have their own civic obligations to fulfill. The role of the community in dealing with human needs is perceived to be substantial but never all-embracing.

Whereas the first two political cultures see authority and power as hierarchical, Jewish political culture sees it as federal. In this view, it is the product of a series of covenants reaching down to the immediate compacts that establish individual communities in the body civic or politic and affirm the equality of the partners and the authority of the institutions they serve.

Though this strand is as old as the Jewish people, the circumstances of Jewish political life since the loss of independence some two thousand years ago, and particularly since the rise of the modern nation-state in the last three hundred years, were such that Jewish communities could not preserve their political autonomy unadulterated. In those years, Jews lost their own political culture as they assimilated--willingly or forceably--into the host societies in which they found themselves. This was true from Germany to Algeria, from the United States to Iran. Wherever Jews lived lives relatively integrated into their host societies, they acquired the political orientations of those societies. Consequently, the Jewish strand is frequently more latent than manifest. Every Jewish community, however, maintained some internal political organization, which even when not conceived to be political by its members, acculturated them into patterns of political behavior vis-a-vis one another and the community. This civic strand is spread across almost the entire Jewish population of Israel, which means that, more than any of the others, it provides common points of reference and possibilities for communication among Jews from widely different diaspora environments.

To some extent, Israeli civil society is already in amalgam of the three strands, with different institutions reflecting one strand more than the others. In other respects, the three stand in tension and even conflict. When the Zionists were called upon to build their own state, they drew upon the only models they knew. More than that, their expectations of what statehood meant virtually required them to adopt the institutions of the European reified state, pointing to them with pride in the first flush of statehood. The further removed particular institutions were from the necessity to mobilize popular support, consent, and participation on a continuing basis, the more they mimicked European (especially Jacobin) models. Thus the Israeli bureaucracy is European in style and structure, but the army--the most fully Israeli institution--comes far closer to the model of authoritative relationships rooted in Jewish political culture emphasizing as it does leadership by example and discipline on the basis of informed consent.34 The subject strand, whose legitimacy is in doubt everywhere, and which is rapidly disappearing, remains visible, if at all, among certain strata in the development towns.

Yet, underneath these, the upward thrust of the previously latent Jewish political culture is becoming increasingly evident, though far from unilinear in its progress. Take the role of the Supreme Court in relation to the Knesset. Following European models, the Knesset is formally the highest repository of authority or political sovereignty in the state, with its supremacy specified in law and taken for granted in practice. Parliamentary systems normally do not give their supreme courts power to declare acts of parliament unconstitutional. Therefore, Israel makes no formal provision for judicial review of legislative acts of the Knesset.

Courts, however, have always held authoritative positions in Jewish political life, and Jewish political culture has emphasized judicial decision making as being of the highest importance. The Supreme Court of Israel has taken its obligations seriously and in 1969, asserted a limited power of judicial review, effectively declaring an act of the Knesset to be unconstitutional by holding that it was unenforceable.35 The Knesset accepted the court's ruling and, in response, passed a revised act designed to accommodate its constitutional objections. In doing so, it effectively affirmed at least a limited power of judicial review as part of the state's constitutional framework and moved Israel a step away from the European models and closer to a model indigenous to the Israeli situation. Since then, the constitutional role of the Supreme Court has continued to grow, with almost no opposition. Today it has a power of review somewhat different than, but hardly less than, that of the Supreme Court of the United States.36

Though a common Israeli political culture is still in its formative stages, some of its elements can already be identified. First, there is the strong sense of national unity--one might say embattled national unity-which pervades the country, the effect of Israel's immediate security position and the history of Jewish isolation and persecution in the larger world. Because the security situation is a continuation of one of the major problems of Jewish history--that of survival--in a new context, this element is rooted deeply in the psyches of and political culture of all Jews, including Israelis.

Similarly, a common sense of vocation or calling to some great task, or at least a strong feeling of need for such a sense, is inherited from Jewish political culture. Israel, in that sense, cannot merely exist for its citizens; it must be justified by virtue of its contribution as a Jewish state, however defined.37 Until the 1950s, this sense of vocation was manifested through the Zionist vision of rebuilding Israel to redeem the Jewish people. Since then it has become somewhat blurred as it has become ideologically simplified and intellectually broadened. The revival of elements of the Zionist mystique after 1967 gave it new life for a few years, although by the late 1970s, there was a strong feeling abroad that this sense of vocation needed renewal. The early sympathy for Gush Emunim, even on the part of those willing to exchange territory occupied as a result of the war for real peace, reflected that sense in that the Gush was seen as continuing the pioneering tradition of full commitment to the Zionist vocation. Subsequently, the ultra-Orthodox briefly enjoyed the same positive response on the part of people for renewal of their way of life, on the basis of their clear vocational commitment, until their demands on the state became excessive in the view of the less religious. What was clear was that Israelis, as Jews, took the need for a sense of vocation for granted and felt uneasy when it was weak.

The federal element (in the social even more than the political sense) is an important part of Israel's emergent political culture. We have already noted the use of federal principles in the foundation of the state's institutions. These institutional arrangements are the most visible manifestations of the federal principles that permeate Israeli society and its political culture, from its congregational religious organization to its system of condominium housing. Even though it has no acknowledged federal structure in its polity, contractual government, the consociational diffusion of power among its political parties and movements, and negotiated collaboration are elements of the Jewish political culture that are finding expression, though imperfectly, in the restored Jewish state.

Constitutionalism, republicanism, and desires for self-government are also deeply rooted in the emergent political culture of Israel. Whatever the problems faced by the country, threats to constitutional legitimacy or the republican form of government are not among them. This is so despite public statements in certain quarters deploring Israel's lack of a "written constitution." Precisely because such threats are almost unthinkable, we know that cultural rather than simply strategic or expediential supports for constitutionalism and republicanism are involved.38

The covenant idea, with its underlying premise that civil society is really a partnership among the compacting individuals, is basic to Israel as a new society in the modern sense and as the heir to the Jewish political tradition. The idea of constitutional legitimacy flowing from covenantal consensus has moved in an unbroken line from the Israelite tribal federation through the kehillot of the diaspora to the kibbutzim of modern Israel. As a proper Jewish polity, the State of Israel was inaugurated through a covenant which, as has been common since 1776, was called a Declaration of Independence. That document, the only one in the entire history of the state signed by every political party from Agudath Israel to the Communists, presents the state's founding consensus and the principles on which it is built; neatly balancing Jewish historical aspirations, traditional themes, and the universalism and pluralism of modernity. As such, it has acquired constitutional standing and moral force in the eyes of the Israelis. It is taught as the embodiment of the principles of the Israeli polity.

Beyond covenants, the Jewish political tradition also emphasizes the ordering of the polity through a written constitution. Here Israel has had to confront a basic conflict, unresolvable under contemporary conditions. That is, whether the Torah as the traditional constitution of the Jewish people must serve as the basis for the state's basic law or whether Israel is to adopt a modern civil (or secular) constitution. Israel shares that tradition and is committed to the adoption of a formal written constitution and first tried to write one in 1949.39 The first Knesset was actually elected as a constituent assembly. But this basic disagreement prevents the comprehensive consummation of this commitment. The series of compromises involved in the decision to postpone the writing of a constitution need not concern us here. Suffice it to say that, even without that basic conflict, a reluctance growing out of just those problems of creating a new political cultural synthesis indigenous to the new society described above lay at the root of the decision. The problems of religion and state, the precise forms of political institutions, the degree of government centralization and intervention into the economy, and the extent to which individual rights needed constitutional safeguards were basic constitutional questions deemed worth deferring on that account.

Instead, a standing Constitutional, Legislative, and Judicial Committee was established in the Knesset and charged with the responsibility of drafting Basic Laws, chapter by chapter, for submission to the Knesset. Their approval, nominally by an absolute majority of the Knesset (at least sixty-one votes) gives them constitutional status. In accord with the political theory under which the state operates, the final document will be called a Basic Law and not a constitution (a term apparently reserved for use by the Jewish people as a whole).

By 1989, nine Basic Laws had been enacted. They and the other documents deemed to have constitutional status are listed below. Together, they constitute the great bulk of a full constitution.40

The Constitution of the State of Israel

I. Basic Constitutional Texts

The Declaration of Independence 1948
The Law of Return 1950
World Zionist Organization--Jewish Agency
(Status) Law 1952
II. Basic Laws
The Knesset 1958
Israel Lands 1960
The President of the State 1964
The Government 1968
The State Economy 1975
Israel Defense Forces 1976
Jerusalem, Capital of Israel 1980
The Judicature 1984
The State Comptroller 1988

By now, a constitutional tradition that goes beyond those documents has taken root in the state. Israel's constitution, like the British, is not written in a single document although, also like the British, it is based upon a set of constitutional documents. These include the Proclamation of Independence of the State, nine Basic Laws, the covenant between the State and the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency, the Harari resolution enacted by the Knesset in 1950 establishing the process of constitution-making, and perhaps one or two other pieces of legislation. The essence of Israel's constitution, again like the British, is its ancient constitutional tradition, as adapted to contemporary conditions.

Israel's Supreme Court has made this constitution operative through judicial review and the Knesset has faithfully adhered to the constitutional framework it has developed. The way in which that has been done reveals much of the way in which the ancient tradition has been adapted.

In other matters, the shape of the emergent political culture is more equivocal. Impressionalist observation reveals that a change is taking place in the relationship between the bureaucracy and the public. The bureaucrats may not be becoming more efficient, but they are becoming less officious, accepting their role as public servants rather than officials of the state.41

The same equivocal situation prevails regarding the role of the citizens. Israelis generally assume that citizens should be concerned with civic matters, and citizen participation in elections as voters is particularly high. Nevertheless, attempts to develop widespread political participation beyond the elections have run into difficulties because of the party system, where centralized control and adherence to the ideological symbols and forms of an earlier generation discourage participation by those not "political" in Israeli parlance (that is, those who do not make politics the overriding concern in their lives). This is changing slowly through public action and the acts of many individual citizens which together are bridging the gap between cultural expectations and accepted political practice.

So, too, the public's expectations of politicians are reasonably high, except, perhaps, in matters involving party bargaining. The people demand a high standard of behavior by those they entrust with power, yet are still in the process of devising ways to impose sanctions if they do not meet that standard. Questions of political morality in this sense have become major issues, beginning with the 1977 elections.42 This must be understood in context. Jews are not Puritans or Victorians but they are civic-minded.

Following this writer's political cultural model developed earlier, Jewish political culture is civic, republican, and traditional. In Israel it has been modified to include a strong statist strand. Jews themselves approach government with a moralistic outlook but at the same time are very individualistic in their personal behavior and demands, accepting the discipline of the community as binding only when they consent to it. Jewish individualism tends to be assertive as well, the less restraint on it, the better; the more possibility for objections, the better.

Balancing these moralistic and individualistic tendencies is a strong sense of traditionalism which serves as an anchor and restraint on both. Traditionalism tends to be the source of a certain conservatism in Jewish life. This is not only true of those who are religiously traditional. There is nobody as orthodox in his way as an old Jewish radical. In other words, whatever ideology Jews adopt in a very short time becomes a tradition, compelling its adherants to live intensively according to what are perceived to be the dictates of its principles. These must be followed according to precedent and without rocking the boat, even though with their moralistic tendencies, Jews constantly tend to look for improvement in the present situation and reform, and with their individualistic ones Jews tend to be liberal in matters of personal behavior.

There is a tension, as it were, in all Jewish communities between tradition, moralism, and individualism. It is a tension that is not and cannot be definitively overcome. Rather it is a kind of hopefully creative tension that helps define Jews as Jews. In every generation and in every community Jews try to adjust to it as best they can. Israel is no exception. All three strands are very visible in the political attitudes and behavior of Israeli Jews.

Finally, there is a tendency for Jews to have messianic expectations and to approach political life with those expectations before them. The Jewish willingness to fight for messianic goals explains the intense commitment of so many Jews to ideologies and causes. A messianic commitment can lead to fanaticism and there are no better fanatics than Jews. Why? Because to be messianic one has to have passion and to believe passionately. If one believes passionately that something is right, one will go to almost any length to achieve it.

Fortunately, Jews have been taught so strongly by the Torah and by drawing on their own historical experience to minimize violence that even the worst Jewish fanatics tend to stop when their confrontations with other Jews come right up to the edge. That has been a saving grace in contemporary Israel. Every time inter-Jewish conflicts have reached the point of incipient violence, all segments of the Jewish population have recoiled from crossing that line.

Political Response

In Israel representative government was originally conceived to be government through representative institutions (that is, parties and movements) rather than representative individuals. This approach is now under some attack in a developing struggle over the means of representation and the constitution of the institutions themselves.

In the governing institutions themselves, in place of the integration of powers common in parliamentary institutions there is a continuing, if halting, trend toward separation of powers. The government (cabinet) has become increasingly independent of the Knesset and vice versa. The ability of the government to achieve independence is not difficult to fathom. The central problem in parliamentary systems all over the world is how to make legislatures more than simply routine ratifiers of executive proposals.

Israel has not solved this problem, but it has developed and institutionalized the unparliamentary device of standing committees with areas of responsibility somewhat akin to the American model that help the Knesset preserve some of its independence--within the limits dictated by the parliamentary system--and to shape government proposals into better legislation. These standing committees include representatives of government and opposition parties. Meeting behind closed doors, they allow members of the minority parties to influence legislation through their talents in a way that would be impossible if they had to act openly in an arena where their suggestions had to be judged on a partisan basis.43

The expansion of the bargaining arena must be considered another aspect of republicanism in Israel. As befits a society whose origins lie so heavily in covenantal arrangements, bargaining and negotiation are important features of Israel's political process, though, as befits a society torn between formal institutions representing the statist-bureaucratic political culture and tendencies reflecting the others, much of the bargaining is conducted despite the formal structure rather than in harmony with it. The Knesset committee system is simply one way in which it has been institutionalized without overt political change. The government is hardly more than a coalition of ministries, each delegated broad powers by the Knesset and the realities of coalition politics so that it can almost legislate in it its own field. These ministries negotiate with their clients, their local government counterparts, the prime minister, with one another, and the corresponding Knesset committees to implement their programs.

Most Jews who have settled in Israel came after the state was established. They usually had low expectations about government services and even lower expectations about their ability to participate in or even influence government policies. The expectations of the Arabs were even lower. Many of the Jews, however, were ambivalent; they saw the new state as a messianic achievement and hence expected its government to solve problems in housing and employment in a paternalistic way. In a sense, their outlook reflected a temporary synthesis between subject and statist political orientations.

As the population acquired an understanding of democratic government, their demands intensified; some groups, once passive, became almost unrestrained in their insistence on having their way. With this escalation of demands came an escalation of complaints about how services were delivered. Individuals would seek to influence those responsible for service delivery when it affected them, relying on personal contacts, but still did not see themselves as participants in the general political process. This has now changed, as most Israelis have been socialized into the political system, and the subject political culture has well-nigh disappeared. A new synthesis of civic and statist political orientations has emerged; whereby Israeli citizens expect the state to be dominant in meeting their needs in a framework of expected government responsiveness to a more involved public.

Whether these changes can overcome bureaucratic inertia and the formally hierarchical structure of the system is an open question. What is clear is that the political culture of Israel acts in contradictory ways. As much as the statist aspect is a force, it acts as a strong bulwark against the myriad of explicit and implicit contractual arrangements and the accompanying bargaining and negotiation that inform the system. As the civic aspect becomes stronger, it acts as a catalyst for change. Perhaps as the Israeli political culture becomes more consistent and harmonious, the combination will prove to be unworkable and one aspect or another will undergo serious modifications, but there is no reason to expect real change in the near future.

Religion and Politics

Last in the discussion of Israel as a Jewish state is the operational relationship between religion and politics within it. Increasingly, Jewish religion has become important in Israel's civic culture. The movement in this direction is unmistakable. Relations between religion and politics in Israel can be understood only by understanding the five forms of religious expression influential in the state today.44

First, there is mainstream Orthodox Judaism as reflected by the established organs linked to the state. These include the chief rabbinate, the local religious councils, the rabbinical courts, and the state religious educational system. For the most part, this is the religion represented by the National Religious Party, which has been a coalition partner in every lasting government since the state was established, and even before. It has exercised a predominant, though by no means exclusive, influence over the public expression of religion in Israel.

Second, there is the popular religion of the broad public, a combination of residual folk traditions, of commonly accepted Jewish practices, and elements of an Israeli civil religion. Even though no more than a quarter of Israelis define themselves as dati (religious), which in the Israeli context means Orthodox, probably the largest single body of Israelis--the estimates are 40 to 50 percent--define themselves as masorti (traditional). For the Israelis, that is an umbrella term which includes people highly observant by any standards, those who simply maintain certain home customs, and those who observe almost nothing but consider themselves believers. Even among the 25 percent who define themselves as hiloni (secular), many retain substantial elements of folk religion in their lives--certain Sabbath observances in the home, avoidance of overt mixing of meat and milk, and the like--though they will define themselves as secular because, for them, these practices represent a comfortable kind of "Jewishness" rather than manifestations of religious belief. Popular religion is well rooted in Israel, in almost every quarter. It is undergoing radical change now, because of the transformation of many of the roughly 55 percent of Israelis of Afro-Asian backgrounds, who now are losing their traditional ways as did so many of the Jews who came from European backgrounds a generation or two earlier.

Third, there is the civil religion. In a sense, civil religion represents the point of intersection between establishment and popular religion. It reflects the emergence of a civil religion that is grounded in traditional Judaism but is not traditional religion, what I have elsewhere described as the reemergence in new ways of Sadducean Judaism, the civil religion in Israel before the destruction of the Second Commonwealth and the great Jewish dispersion.45 In this respect it is different from the talmudic or Pharisaic Judaism embodied by Israel's establishment religion and which was the dominant Jewish religious expression for at least sixteen hundred years. This neo-Sadduceanism is based on the centrality of Jewish public life for the expression of Judaism. The developing civil religion in Israel tries to make sacred those expressions of Jewish moralistic nationalism associated with the state and to infuse them with traditional religious forms.

There was always a degree of this, when even the most secularist halutzim took Jewish festivals and reinterpreted them in ways that gave expression to the values of the Zionist revival.46 In recent years, celebrations that were entirely secular even when they relied on adaptations of traditional Jewish forms are being fused with Jewish religious symbolism and modes of behavior. For example, Israeli Independence Day has increasingly taken on the elements of a religious holiday. It is expected that the president of the state and the prime minister will go to evening and morning religious services on that day. Those services, parts of the regular daily prayer cycle, now include recitation of traditional prayers of praise and thanksgiving for Israel's independence. The religious establishment is also trying to develop some kind of recognition of Israeli Independence Day as a holiday that can be institutionalized in the Jewish calendar. Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the liberation of the Old City and the Temple Mount according to the Jewish calendar, is also acquiring the status of a religious holiday.

Fourth, there is ultra-Orthodox religion, so called because it is even more extreme in its expression of classic talmudic Judaism than establishment religion. It is most visible through the people who make the headlines by throwing stones at autos that travel through or near their neighborhoods on the Sabbath, who protest the immodesty of women dressed in modern fashion, and the like. They number a few thousand at most by the broadest definition. Most of the ultra-Orthodox community, comprising several hundred thousand people, are counted among Agudath Israel, the yeshiva world, and the numerous Hassidic sects that express themselves through normal political and social channels and have, especially in recent years, entered the political processes through their own political parties.

The ultra-Orthodox are the ultimate Perushim (Pharisees) in their commitment to the dominance of the keter torah. Their vigorous activity and expanded role in the political arena has restored the political voice of that domain (albeit though only one expression of it) in ways thought to be no longer possible in a secular democratic state. As such, it reaffirms the basic realities of Jewish politics in Israel as elsewhere.

The ultra-Orthodox constitute a state within a state. They maintain their own schools, institutions, rabbinical courts, and the like. There are points of intersection between them and the larger polity, but usually the polity tries to leave them alone, to give them the same support as any other group, but to get them to leave the state alone. This is an uneasy relationship that usually leads to periodic conflict around critical issues, but this should not obscure the routine coexistence that exists at other times.

Fifth, there is an emergent nonestablishment religious Judaism, the Masorti (Conservative) and Yahadut Mitkademet (Reform movements, which together exceed fifty congregations in strength. With Masorati congregations now being formed throughout the country, two Reform and one Masorti kibbutz on the land, and Reform and Conservative rabbis now being ordained in Israel, it is reasonable to conclude that these nonestablishment movements are in the country to stay. Although they are formally unrecognized, there are increasing contacts between them and the authorities in their daily activities and, in some respects, they have tacit recognition. For example, under a minister of education from the National Religious Party, the Ministry of Education supported the establishment of schools reflecting the Masorti approach within the framework of the state educational system. The number of these schools is growing and more are being established as the demand appears. In the past, different congregations obtained land for buildings from the municipal authorities, and occasionally Masorti rabbis were authorized to perform marriages. As they have become more visible, these quasi-formal steps have been discontinued under Orthodox pressure. Growing support for their activities in Israel comes from the Jewish Agency in recogniton of their political strength in the diaspora.

It is important to understand that the government of Israel does not control or try to control the religious establishment. Instead, the religious communities and groups use state instrumentalities to further their own ends. Headline-grabbing events such as the exemption of Yeshiva students from military service notwithstanding, day-to-day relations between the religious and nonreligious in Israel are quite routine. On the other hand, the status quo established in 1947-48 is under assault by a new generation that may be less militantly secularist, but far more attuned to matters of personal convenience, seeking recreational opportunities on the Sabbath and holidays and the like.47

The Religious Parties in Israeli Politics

Because of the pervasiveness of religious concerns in Israel, most of the five groupings or positions find political expression through the party system. Where the need for political expression is reinforced by the desire to benefit from the instrumentalities of the state--whether institutional control, financial support, recognition of legitimacy, state enforcement or religious norms, or any combination of these--the likelihood of acting through a political party is greatly increased.

An examination of Israeli politics since 1949 reveals that a governing coalition is formed when major shares of two of the three camps can be combined. Until the 1977 elections, coalitions usually comprised two-thirds of the labor camp plus two-thirds of the religious camp plus a small crossover from the civil camp. In the Begin-led coalition, the same principle was observed but in reverse. Almost the entire civil camp, except Independent Liberal Gideon Hausner, linked with the entire religious camp. This, more than any mathematical formula, explains the basis of coalition formation in Israeli politics.

The shift toward greater concern for Jewish tradition as part of Israel's civil religion by the pacesetters of Israeli society reflects two factors: the perennial search for meaning characteristic of Jews, including Israeli Jews, and the concern for the Jewish future of Israel. These factors are mutually reinforcing and are appropriate in a world where religious concern is again on the rise.

Four of the five forms of religious expression are represented in the political process by parties, and the fifth may have found a vehicle for gaining representation despite its reluctance to do so. Establishment religion has the National Religious Party (Mafdal). The popular religion of the Sephardic majority found its expression in Tami in 1981 and among the Shas voters in 1984. Ultra-Orthodox religion has its voice in Agudath Israel, Degel HaTorah, and the Shas leadership.

Civil religion found its partisan in the Likud. This, indeed, was one of the contributions of Menachem Begin. Using the approach developed by his mentor, Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky, Begin cultivated the synthesis between nationalist politics and Jewish religion, hence, his emphasis on Jewish ceremony and observance as part of the public life of the state. In this he was ahead of his Herut party colleagues (except the Sephardim). But he was very close to his constituency and found a common language with his closest potential coalition partners. No doubt part of the reason that voters who previously supported Mafdal voted for Likud in 1981 was that they felt Begin had a properly positive attitude toward religion and religious tradition.

Begin's constituency was undoubtedly drawn heavily from among those deeply rooted in the popular religion, the Sephardic shomrei masoret (observers of the tradition) and their Ashkenazic counterparts. Outsiders have asked how Begin--so much the quintessential Polish Jew--managed to appeal to the Sephardim. Much of the answer lay in this sharing of a common popular religion to which he gave expression officially and privately. For the Sephardim, he was an authentic Jew even if his customs are different from theirs, unlike the Labor Party leaders who impressed them as being not very "Jewish" at all, because they seemed to have no links with religious tradition.

Only nonestablishment Judaism is unrepresented in the political sphere, in great part because it is an expression of Western, particularly American, ideas about the relationship between religion and state and the need to maintain separation between them. Those views are reinforced by the interests of nonestablishment Jews in Israel that require a separation between establishment religion and politics if nonestablishment Judaism is to gain the full recognition that it seeks.

Recently, a growing minority among the nonestablishment leadership has begun to understand that the situation in Israel is different from that in the United States and for nonestablishment religion to get its share of the pie, it must have representation in the political arena. This minority has worked in two directions. Some, particularly in the Reform movement, tried to form an alliance with the Labor Alignment to get Labor to endorse the full recognition of their movements. At one point in the 1981 campaign, this approach was gaining ground. Thinking it was really going to win an absolute majority of seats in the Knesset, Labor was willing to take that position even at the cost of alienating its former coalition partners from the religious camp. However, once it became apparent that Labor would not win that majority and, indeed, was struggling for its political life, its leaders backed away from that position--unsuccessfully as it turned out, because they had become identified by Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike as now committed to an anti-Orthodox stance. They have never repeated that mistake; nor have they been able to secure needed Orthodox support since.

Others have become involved in the parties of the sabra reform movement, including the short-lived Democratic Movement for Change and Shinui but particularly in the Citizens' Rights Movement (CRM). The CRM has offered these people hospitality but it would be premature to suggest that it has become the political expression of nonestablishment Judaism. Nevertheless, more than any other party, it has that potential.

The obverse of this is the spread of elements of religious expression into the civil camp. Picking up on Begin's model, the Likud is increasingly committed to express some combination of civil and popular religion. Rather than following the "modernization" model posited by many social scientists that as its population becomes "modernized," Israeli politics will move toward separation of church and state or at least greater secularization, there is every sign that we are witnessing the opposite. As Israel becomes further removed from its founding generation, its Jewish majority is even more concerned about the state's Jewish authenticity and is looking for ways to link the state to forms of Jewish religious expression that will reaffirm and strengthen that authenticity.

The civil religion emerging in Israel is essentially neo-Sadducean. That is, the religious forms are designed to bolster ties with the state and its institutions rather than treating the state and its institutions as handmaidens of the Jewish religious vision. That is what separates the civil from the religious camp when push comes to shove. But, because a majority of the religious camp places a high value on the state and its institutions as instruments to achieve the religious vision, in practice the difference often becomes irrelevant. Menachem Begin was the fullest expression to date of using neo-Sadduceanism as a bridging rather than a divisive force. The Labor leaders are also neo-Sadducees but their expression of that tendency emphasizes its divisive side. Which version of the civil religion will win out remains to be seen, but the signs point to a public desire for it to be bridging rather than divisive. It is unlikely that this sentiment will or can be ignored by any major political party in Israel.


So many pages after we have begun, we have ended by doing no more than suggesting some of the ways in which Israel can be seen as a Jewish state and the complexities involved in determining how Israel is a Jewish state. This writer hopes that the article has avoided most of the polemic elements in that discussion, even though the polemics are very much a part of what it means for Israel to be a Jewish state. Indeed, as long as the argument continues as to what constitutes a Jewish state and how well Israel meets the test, we know that the issue remains alive and a real one.

As long as so many of the Jews in Israel were born outside of the country and were first Jews and only later Israelis, Israel's true character as a Jewish state is rendered even harder to delineate. The real test will come in the future when the vast majority of Israelis including the Israeli establishment will have been born in Israel. Israel achieved a native-born majority in the 1980s but the mass aliya of Jews from the Soviet Union is shifting things back again. Thus it will be even longer before Jews will have to confront that new reality. If anything, the aliya from the Soviet Union has reaffirmed the Jewishness of the state, not only by giving the state a majority of Jews born outside of it once again but by reaffirming the purposes for which the state was established, purposes heartily endorsed by Israelis of all backgrounds and birth places who, in being reinvigorated as they have been by Israel's renewed role as a place of refuge for Jews in need, have demonstrated once again one dimension of Israel's role as a Jewish state.

How Israel will fall into the great tradition of Jewish civilization and its political dimension in the future is an unanswerable question. It will be influenced not only by what happens within Israel but how well Israel fits into a changing world in which the old isolation or at least the old separations between nations, groups and cultures are rendered increasingly obsolete. For those Israeli Jews who want Israel to be a Jewish state qualitatively as well as quantitatively, it will be necessary to learn new ways to achieve their goal.


* This author thanks to Robert Freedman for his very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

1. On the importance of Jewish polity in Eretz Israel, see, for example: Ella Belfer, "The Jewish People and the Kingdom of Heaven: A Study of Jewish Theocracy," Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-2 (Spring 1989); Martin Buber, Kingship of God (3rd ed., translated by R. Scheimann; New York: Harper and Row, 1967); Chayim Hirschensohn, Malki Bakodesh 6 vols. (Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav, 1923-1928).

2. Eliezer Schweid, "The Attitude Toward the State in Modern Jewish Thought Before Zionism," in Daniel J. Elazar, ed., Kinship and Consent: The Jewish Political Tradition and Its Contemporary Uses (Ramat Gan: Turtledove, 1981), pp. 127-150.

3. On terminology, see Daniel J. Elazar and Stuart A. Cohen, eds, The Jewish Polity: Jewish Political Organizaton from Biblical Times to the Present (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985); Moshe Weinfeld, "Judge and Officer in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East," Israel Oriental Studies 7 (1977): 65-88; C. Umhau Wolf, "Terminology of Israel's Tribal Organization," Journal of Biblical Literature 65 (1946): 45-49.

4. On the edah, see Daniel J. Elazar, "The Covenant as the Basis of the Jewish Political Tradition," in Kinship and Consent; Robert Gordis, "Democratic Origins in Ancient Israel -- The Biblical Edah," in The Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1967), pp. 373-388; Meir Loeb ben Jehiel Michael (the Malbim) Ha-Torah ve ha-Mitzvah (1st ed.; Bucharest, 1860), II: 241 (commentary to Lev. 4: 13; Moshe Weinfeld, "From God's Edah to the Chosen Dynasty: The Transition From the Tribal Federation to the Monarchy," in Elazar, Kinship and Consent, pp. 151-166.

5. See Daniel J. Elazar and Stuart A. Cohen, The Jewish Polity.

6. On covenant, see Eugene B. Borowitz, "Covenant Theology," Commentary (July 1962) and "Covenant Theology -- Another Look," Worldview (March 1973); Daniel J. Elazar, The Vocabulary of Covenant (Philadelphia: Center for the Study of Federalism, 1983) and The Covenant Idea in Politics, Working Paper No. 22 (Jerusalem: Center for Jewish Community Studies 1983); Ruth Gil, The Covenant in the Bible -- Collected Sources and Ruth Gil and Yehiel Rosen, The Covenant in the Tannaic Literature -- Collected Sources (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan Department of Political Studies, Covenant Workshop). See also Moshe Weinfeld, "Covenant," in Encyclopedia Judaica, 5: 1012-1022.

7. Edah is often translated as congregation; that term has a religious connotation today that it did not have when introduced in sixteenth and seventeenth century biblical translations. Then it had a civil meaning as well. It was a "congregation -- an institutionalized gathering of people who congregate (come together) that meets at regular times or frequently for common action and decision-making.

8. R. Judah HaBarceloni, comp. Sefer Hashtarot is a collection of model contracts and covenants in twelfth century Spain.

9. On the democratic and quasi-democratic character of the edah, see Robert Gordis, "Democratic Origins in Ancient Israel -- The Biblical Edah," in Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume.

10. On the three ketarim, see Stuart A. Cohen, The Concept of the Three Ketarim: Its Place in Jewish Political Thought and its Implications for a Study of Jewish Constitutional History Working Paper No. 18 (Philadelphia: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 1982), pp. 1-40, and "Keter as a Jewish Political Political Symbol: Origins and Implications," Jewish Political Studies Review Vol. 1, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring 1989).

11. Ahad Haam, Selected Essays, translated by Leon Simon (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1912); Selections of Yehiel Michael Pines and Rabbi Abraham Issac Kook can be found in Arthur Hertzberg, ed., The Zionist Idea (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959).

12. Martin Buber, Paths in Utopia (New York: Macmillan, 1950) and On Zion: The History of an Idea. Trans. Stanley Goldman (New York: Schocken, 1986).

13. Natan Yanai, "Ben-Gurion's Concept of Mamlahtiut and the Forming Reality of the State of Israel," Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 1, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring 1989).

14. Daniel J. Elazar, Israel: Building a New Society (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986).

15. Eliezer Don-Yehiya, Religious Institutions in the Political System -- The Religious Councils in Israel (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1988) (Hebrew).

16. Daniel J. Elazar and Haim Kalchheim, eds., Local Government in Israel (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1988).

17. On governing Israel, see Lester Seligman, Leadership in a New Nation: Political Development in Israel (New York: Atherton Press, 1964); Eric M. Uslander, "The Lord Helps Those Who Help Their Constituents: Redeeming Promises in the Promised Land," (Paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, 1983).

18. Charles Liebman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya, The Civil Religion in Israel: Traditional Religion and Political Culture (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983); Daniel J. Elazar, Israel: Building a New Society (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986) and People and Polity: The Organizational Dyanmics of World Jewry (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989); Sam Lehman-Wilzig and Baruch Susser, eds., Comparitive Jewish Politics: Public Life in Israel and the Diaspora (Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1981).

19. Daniel J. Elazar and Alysa M. Dortort, eds., Understanding the Jewish Agency: A Handbook (rev. ed.; Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1985); Ernest Stock, Chosen Instrument: The Jewish Agency in the First Decade of the State of Israel (New York: Herzl Press, 1988) and Partners and Pursestrings: A History of the United Israel Appeal (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1987).

20. Arieh Eliav, Land of the Heart (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1974).

21. On Israel as a compound polity, see S.N. Eisenstadt, Israeli Society (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967); Daniel J. Elazar, "Israel's Compound Polity," in Howard R. Penniman, ed., Israel at the Polls: The Knesset Elections of 1977 (Washington D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1979) and Israel: Building a New Society; Leonard J. Fein, Politics in Israel (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967); Dan Horowitz and Moshe Lissak, The Origins of the Israeli Polity: Palestine under the Mandate (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978).

22. On religious law and the state, see S.Z. Abramov, Perpetual Dilemma (Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1976); Charles Liebman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya, Religion and Politics in Israel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984); Zvi Yaron, "Religion in Israel," American Jewish Yearbook, 1976 (New York: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1975).

23. On Israel's consociational system, see Daniel J. Elazar, Israel: From Ideological to Territorial Democracy (Philadelphia: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 1978), and "The Compound Structure of Public Service Delivery Systems in Israel," in V. Ostrom and F.P. Bish, eds., Comparing Urban Service Delivery Systems: Structure and Performance (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1977); Dan Horowitz and Moshe Lissak, The Origins of the Israeli Polity.

24. On the state's institutional infrastructure, see Marvin H. Bernstein, The Politics of Israel: The First Decade of Statehood (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957); Michael Curtis and Mordecai S. Chertoff, eds., Israel: Social Structure and Change (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1973); Oscar Kraines, Government and Politics in Israel (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1961).

25. When the camps crystallized in the Yishuv period, the General Zionist parties with their liberal orientation were the dominant non-religious opposition to Labor. This situation persisted during the first generation of statehood. Once the much weakened General Zionists (by then known as the Liberal Party) joined with Herut, first in Gahal and then in the Likud, and the latter gained the upper hand, the name and character of the camp were changed. This occurred no later than the Knesset election of 1984. The change reflects the camp's nationalistic and populist character.

26. It should be noted that the state school system, more or less consolidated into two official Zionist trends in the 1950s, has once again begun to divide along camp or movement lines. Within the mamlakhti (state) system, there now are schools "in the spirit of the Labor movement," "with supplementation of Judaistic studies," and "experimental (open classroom)" as well as the kibbutz schools which retained their own curriculum all along. Within the mamlakhti-dati (state religious) system there now are "Torani" schools. Each represents a new-style, intracamp ideological trend.

27. Cf., e.g., Ehud Sprinzak, Nitzanei Politika shel Delitimatzia be-Israel, 1967-1972 (The Beginnings of De-Legitimation Politics in Israel, 1967-1972) (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, Eshkol Institute, 1973).

28. Nathan Yanai, "Ben-Gurion's Concept of Mamalahtiut and the Forming Reality of the State of Israel," Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 1, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring 1989); Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion, A Political Biography 3 vols. (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1975) (Hebrew); Shabtai Teveth, Young Ben-Gurion and Ben-Gurion -- Man of Authority (first two volumes of a biography of Ben-Gurion) (Jerusalem: Schocken, 1976); Avraham Avihai, Ben Gurion, State Builder. Principles and Pragmatism, 1948-1963 (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1974).

29. Daniel J. Elazar, Israel: From Ideological to Territorial Democracy (New York: General Learning Press, 1971).

30. This and the subsequent discussion is documented more fully in Daniel J. Elazar and Shmuel Sandler, eds., Israel's Odd Couple: 1984 Elections and National Unity Government (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990). See, in particular, the following articles: Efraim Torgovnik, "An Incumbent's Electoral Politics Under Adverse Conditions" (Chapter 1); Jonathan Mendilow, "The 1884 Alignment Electoal Campaign: Catch- All Tactics in a Divided Society" (Chapter 2); Nathan Yanai, "The 1984 Elections and the Resumption of a Communal Coalition Tradition" (Chapter 8).

31. On Likud, see Elazar and Sandler's Who's the Boss? Israel at the Polls 1988-1989 (forthcoming); especially the chapter by Giora Goldberg, "The Likud: Turning to the Center."

32. See on the religious camp in Elazar and Sandler's Israel's Odd Couple: Ilan Greilsammer, "The Religious Parties."

33. See Marvin Meyers, The Jacksonian Persuasion; Politics and Belief (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1960).

34. On Israel's bureaucracy, see Gerald Caiden, Israel's Adminstrative Culture (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies, 1970), and "Coping with Turbulence: Israel's Administrative Experience," Journal of Comparative Administration 1: 259-80.

On Israel's army, see Gabriel Ben-Dor, "Politika ve-Tzava be-Israel be-Shnot ha-Shivim," in Lissak and Gutmann, eds., Ha-Maarakhet ha-Politit ha-Yisraelit ("Politics and Army in Israel in the Seventies" in The Israeli Political System), pp. 411-432; Tom Bowder, Army in the Service of the State (Tel Aviv: University Publishing Projects, 1975); Edward Luttwak and Dan Horowitz, The Israel Army (London: Allen Lane, 1975); S.L.A. Marshall, "Israel's Citizen Army," in Swift Sword (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1967); Amos Perlmutter, Politics and the Military in Israel (London: Frank Cass, 1978); Zeev Schiff, A History of the Israeli Army, 1870-1974 (San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books, 1974).

35. Amnon Rubinstein, "Supreme Court vs. The Knesset," Hadassah Magazine 51, No. 7 (March 1970).

36. Cf. Amnon Rubinstein, "The Struggle Over the Bill of Rights for Israel," and George Gross, "The Constitutional Question in Israel," in Daniel J. Elazar, ed., Constitutionalism: The Israeli and American Experiences (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1990).

37. There are those Israeli Jews who argue for the "normalization" of Israel and its Jews by abandoning that sense of vocation. While at times they are vocal--most are intellectuals--they are not representative as movement after movement, beginning with Canaanism, has found out.

38. Cf., e.g., Michal Shamir, "Kach and the Limits to Political Tolerance in Israel," in Elazar and Sandler, eds., Israel's Odd Couple; Michal Shamir and Asher Arian, "The Primarily Political Functions of the Left - Right Continuum," in Ernest Krausz, ed., Politics and Society in Israel (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1985).

39. On Israel's constitutional commitment, see Emmanuel Rackman, Israel's Emerging Constitution, 1948-1951 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955); Daniel J. Elazar, "A Time of Constitutional Milestones in the History of Israel," Jerusalem Letter/ Viewpoints, 34 (June 12, 1984); J. Albert, "Constitutional Adjudication Without a Constitution: The Case of Israel," Harvard Law Review 82 (1969): 1245-1265; Eli Likhovski, "Can the Knesset Adopt a Constitution Which Will Be the 'Supreme' Law of the Land," Israel Law Review 4 (1969): 61-69; Meir Shamgar, "On the Written Constitution," Israel Law Review 9, no. 4 (October 1974).

40. The Constitution of the State of Israel (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1989).

41. On the changing bureaucracy, see Gerald Caiden, Israel's Administrative Culture; Leonard J. Fein, Politics in Israel (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967), Chapter 5.

42. On political morality/corruption, see Ira Sharkansky and Alex Radian, "Changing Domestic Policy, 1977-81," in Robert O. Freedman, ed., Israel in the Begin Era (New York: Praeger, 1982).

43. On the Knesset and its committees, see Asher Zidon, Knesset, Parliament of Israel, translated from the Hebrew by Aryeh Rubinstein and Gertrude Hirschler (New York: Herzl Press, 1967); Asher Arian, Politika ve Mishtar be Yisrael [Politics and Government in Israel] (Tel Aviv: Zmor Bitan, 1985) (Hebrew).

44. On religion and politics, see Daniel J. Elazar, "Religion and Politics in the Begin Era," in Robert O. Freedman, ed., Israel in the Begin Era and "Jewish Religion and Politics in Israel," Jerusalem Letter 33 (October 12, 1980); Eliezer Goldman, Religious Issues in Israel's Political Life (Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1964), pp. 84-94; Charles Liebman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya, Religion and Politics in Israel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984).

45. Daniel J. Elazar, "The New Sadducees," Midstream (August/September 1978).

46. On civil religion in the Yishuv, see Charles S. Leibman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya, Civil Religion of Israel: Tradition, Judaism and Political Culture in the Jewish State (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983); "Symbol System of Zionist Socialism: An Aspect of Israeli Civil Religion," Modern Judaism Vol. 1, No. 2 (September 1981): 121-48; and "Ultranationalism and Its Attitude Toward Religion," Journal of Church and State Vol. 23, No. 2 (1981): 259-264. See also Daniel J. Elazar, "Toward a Jewish Vision of Statehood for Israel," Judaism.

47. On contemporary religious issues, see Yosef Dov Zipris, "Struggling with the Fruming Process," The Jewish Observer, Vol. XXII, No. 6 (September 1989).

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