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WATCH: Israel, the most tolerant nation ever

Jewish Israeli or Israeli Jew? What it means to be a secular Israeli Jew with so much Judaism in the national culture
Dr. Ran Baratz and Shmuel Rosner

The danger of radical nationalism exists in every country. But discussing nationality in Israel Dr. Ran Baratz believes that “for the most part, and from a political perspective” we are “safe like no other nation in the world, because of Jewish values that are absorbed nationally.” Dr. Baratz is a philosophy professor and former head of public diplomacy for Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office. Among the provocative remarks he makes in the conversation I’m proud to present here, Baratz argues that there has never been “a nation that faced such threats and hostility in its recent past that has shown such tolerance toward its minorities.”

What is Jewish Israeli nationality? In #IsraeliJudaism, Portrait of a Cultural Revolution, JPPI’s newly released book, the authors ask the question this way: “How can a culture of exile adapt to an era of political independence? How can the culture of a religiously observant community adapt to the reality of a secularized world? How can a common culture be created between those whose conception of Judaism is primarily religious and those for whom it is primarily national?” Their findings show that Israeli Judaism mixes tradition and nationality in ways that often make them indistinguishable.

The dialogue with Baratz is the fourth in a series of conversations conducted with Israeli intellectuals to discuss the findings and analysis presented in the book. The book, based on JPPI’s work, was coauthored by Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow at JPPI and Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. The English version was published recently and provides us with an opportunity to both present the unique nature of Israeli Judaism to the broader world, and to discuss its future and the implications for world Jewry.

The discussion with Baratz focuses on Israel’s nationality. It also expands on the way Baratz understands the challenges Israeli nationality pose to Israel-Diaspora relations. In the coming weeks JPPI will present more conversations about Israeli traditionalism, nationality, pluralism, ethnicity and more. The first, presented a few weeks ago, featured Prof. Ruth Gavison discussing Israeliness and Jewishness. The second, on Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community, featured activist and philanthropist Daniel Goldman. In the third, on Israeli secularity, we hosted historian Prof. Aviad Kleinberg of Tel Aviv University.

We invite TOI readers to try a short questionnaire prepared by Prof. Camil Fuchs. Once you have answered all the questions, you will be able to see where you are on the map of Israeli Judaism and compare yourself to Israeli Jews by political affiliation, religious affiliation, age and ethnicity (for the survey, click here). 

#IsraeliJudaism is a research project of The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), an independent professional policy planning think tank incorporated as a private non-profit company in Israel (founded by JAFI). The mission of the Institute is to contribute to ensuring the thriving of the Jewish People and the Jewish civilization by engaging in professional strategic thinking and planning on issues of primary concern to world Jewry. Located in Jerusalem, JPPI takes a global approach to the Jewish People and provides decision makers in Israel and the Diaspora with action-oriented policy recommendations.

About the Author
Avinoam Bar-Yosef is the President and the Founding Director of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute.
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