Are We There Yet? Religion, Secularization and Liberal Democracy in Israel

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Abstract

Secularism and liberalism are often perceived as interlinked and associated with the process of modernization and liberal democracy. Yet recent studies of Israel cast doubts on this linkage as in spite of a rapid secularization of some parts of the public sphere anti-liberal and ethnocentric attitudes remain entrenched, encouraging some to call Israel a 'non-liberal democracy'. This article seeks to explain these contradictions by, first, arguing that religion remains instrumental to the national discourse and to practices of demarcating boundaries and, second, that ethnic groups hold different perceptions of religion and attach different importance to religious rituals. Finally, secularization, as the Israeli case demonstrates, remains within the confines of a national discourse, differs between ethnic groups, and advances only with a limited commitment to religious freedom, to toleration associated with liberalism and, consequently, to a liberal democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-258
Number of pages17
JournalMeditteranean Politics
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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