Are we there yet? Religion, secularization and liberal democracy in Israel

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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
Title of host publicationReligion, Secularism and Politics
EditorsGuy Ben-Porat, Jeffrey Haynes
Place of Publication London
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781315778020
ISBN (Print)9781138017658
StatePublished - 2014


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