A Political, Cultural, and Religious Description of the Current Atmosphere as Exists in Israel

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A Political, Cultural, and Religious Description of the Current Atmosphere as Exists in Israel Israel, in the 1990's, is in a continual state of political, cultural and religious flux. Religion continues to play a central factor in the difficulties which the state has been and continues to experience. This unique country is characterized by an amalgam of cultural and ethnic diversity. This historical and cultural fact ensures that the difficulties the state has been experiencing in realizing self-adjustment will continue. At the same time, there exist mostly positive and persistent facets of the culture which continue unabated as will be discussed. Israel is characterized by many religious groups including Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Palestinians, Jews, Arabs and others. Similarly, the Labor Ruling Party is integrally linked to religious orientation and has been embroiled in domestic controversy and flagellation from many sides in recent years. OVERVIEW Statehood in Israel was attained some three thousand years ago, and has served as the home of the Jewish people who are credited with giving the world the Bible. As mentioned, however, this land is comprised of many different groups. The Jewish people constitute 81.8%, and Muslims represent 14.1%. The Christians comprise 2.4% and the Druze and others make up 1.4%. Some five million people from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds live in Israel today. It is a country of immigration, and in the decades prior to the establishment of the state, the majority of newcomers came from Europe, joining Jews whose families had lived in the land for generations. Immediately following independence, (1948), Israel's population doubled with a mass immigration of holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Recently, hundreds of thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries, as well as most members of the ancient Jewish community of Ethiopia, have arrived to make their homes in Israel. Throughout the years, groups, families and individuals have chosen to come from all parts of the free world, in greater or lesser numbers, to take part in building the country. With a population which has increased more than seven-fold since 1948, and with people still coming from all over the world bringing varied languages, traditions, educational standards, and social outlooks, Israel continues to seek ways to meet the challenge of developing a modern, democratic society. In a certain sense, Israel is not unlike the United States of America, in that it is a land which is comprised of many people from varied backgrounds. It is both urban and rural where some 89.9% of the land is made up of cities and the remaining rural area is comprised of villages, Kibbutzim, and Moshavim. Moshav or Kibbutz comprises about 10% of the population in rural areas and agricultural settlements. The...

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