Rabbi Obadiah Joseph said in derision that an eight-year-old ultra-Orthodox boy knows more than a Supreme Court judge, characteristically adding invective words which this is not the place to quote. But regrettably, it might be said as a paraphrase, that even a little boy, if he is ultra-Orthodox, knows the doctrine of the fundamentalist religious hegemony with which his brain has been washed in the religious educational institutions, and claims that this doctrine should be implemented: There is no distinction between national identity, ethnic identity, and religious identity, but only one identity exists for our people, “Judaism”, and every “Jew” belongs to it, the significance being that rabbis are a legitimate alternative to democratically elected leaders, that religious institutions (Rabbinate, Rabbinic courts, etc.) are legitimate alternatives to civil institutions (Knesset, government, judiciary courts), and that the religious Halacha is a legitimate alternative to state laws and constitution. Since this fundamentalist religious doctrine is well known to all the religious public, which constitutes the electorate of the fundamentalist religious political parties, these parties are obliged to behave accordingly. The civil public (which includes the non-sectarian religious people) should adopt and acknowledge a civil doctrine, similar to those of other normal nations: There does indeed exist a distinction between national identity, ethnic identity, and religious identity, this distinction being the basis for the civil regime, such a distinction putting an end, once and forever, to the hegemony of the religious institutions, by limiting their activity to the religious domain only. The existence of such a crystallized civil doctrine, which should be well known to all the civil public, will end Rabbi Obadiah Joseph’s derision, and will not allow the governing parties to barter the civil rights of their voters as payoffs for governmental coalitions with fundamentalist religious parties.
These are the identity needs of the civil public (including the non-sectarian religious people):
- A national identity, which annuls the dependence on religious institutions, supporting and being supported by the principle that belief is the personal matter of the individual. The national identity includes all the citizens, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, etc. This national identity is the basis of the equalitarian civil state.
- An ethnic identity, which annuls the dependence on religious institutions, supporting and being supported by the principle that belief is the personal matter of the individual. The ethnic identity includes all our people in the world. The national identity and the ethnic identity are linked by denomination, by language, by the cultural and historical roots, etc.
Does the “Humanistic Judaism” identity fulfill the above requests? Of course, not! “Judaism” is a belief, just a relatively newly invented name for the Mosaic religion; The “Humanistic Judaism” can only be a current in this belief (like the Reform, or Conservative, or Orthodox Mosaic religion), and so the “Humanistic Judaism” is sectarian and cannot be a national or an ethnic identity. Nevertheless, the intellectuals who created this new current should be praised for their intention to keep religion updated and suited to our modern times (Better still, under the term of “Humanistic Mosaic Religion).
“Free Judaism” is nonsensical (like “Free Christian Religion” or “Free Muslim Religion”).
The above requests may be fulfilled only by the Hebrew identity. The Hebrew identity does not need to be invented, it has existed for thousands of years and has never ceased to exist even for a moment, though it was dormant for some periods of time. The Hebrew identity is the common denominator for all the citizens of the Hebrew State and the common denominator for all the ethnic Hebrews in the world.
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