People might be surprised to find that, although Israel is seen as a “Jewish state,” how secular it really is. As Phil Zuckerman notes in the article I mentioned the other day:
The only nation of secular significance in the Middle East is Israel; 37 percent of Israelis are atheist or agnostic (Kedem 1995) and 75 percent of Israelis define themselves as ‘‘not religious’’ or having a ‘‘non-religious orientation.’’ (Dashefsky et al. 2003).
That’s a lot more secular than the U.S., but not a surprise to many Jews. As the old joke goes, “What do you call a Jew who doesn’t believe in God?” Answer: “A Jew.” But Israel still caters to its Orthodox minority, even when simple decency says that it shouldn’t.
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