Ultra Orthodox Deviation From The Status Quo Agreement & Subsequent Discrimination

1723 words - 7 pages

In the period leading up to the formal proclamation of Israel as an independent state, religious and political leaders had to reach a compromise that would guarantee the freedoms of all future inhabitants of the state. In the Status Quo Agreement, written by David Ben-Gurion for the Jewish Agency, Ben-Gurion reluctantly appeals to the Ultra-Orthodox/Haredi leadership in Israel through drafting specific compromises in which religion and politics would operate cooperatively. These negotiations included the Sabbath, kashrut, marital affairs, and educational mandates. However, this cooperation entailed the separation of church and state insofar as Israel would not become a theocratic state upon its establishment. It is within the separation of church and state that has led to increasing conflicts between secular Zionists and the Ultra-Orthodox.
Although the Status Quo Agreement intended on placating the religious demands of the Ultra-Orthodox leadership in the future Jewish state, it did not limit its guarantees of freedom to solely religious Jews. With the supposition that members of creeds other than Judaism would also inhabit the impending state of Israel, Ben-Gurion provided for the “full equal rights for all citizens and the absence of coercion or discrimination in religious affairs or other matters.” Since the establishment of Israel was also viewed as the creation of a Jewish national home, Ben-Gurion felt this clause was necessary in that it did not preclude any other religions from free practice thus welcoming settlers from all around the world. In addition, this furthered the notion of separate church and state institutions to prohibit the imposition of Jewish culture and identity on these variant settlers and served to limit the political influence of Ultra-Orthodox sects. However, the perceived refusal of the Ultra-Orthodox to demonstrate tolerance and accept the partial religious preclusion from politics by secular Jews has incited much animosity towards the Haredim that has cumulated into intra-religious discrimination in modern Israel.
The absorption of Arab immigrants in the early stages of post-Israeli independence foreshadowed the future discrimination against politically encroaching Haredim. In order to contribute to the progression of the state, Israeli inhabitants felt incoming Arabs were better off adhering to traditional European values rather than their backward, fundamentalist heritage. Current inhabitants of the Israel [at the time] saw this transformation to be a “cultural mission…if only these immigrants would acquire the values of European culture, the distinctions between the newcomers and the older population would be erased.” By viewing the imposition of their own beliefs and values onto Arab immigrants as a cultural mission, Israeli leaders contradict Ben-Gurion’s guarantee in the Status Quo Agreement to the freedom of individual practice. Though one may argue this cultural imposition does not directly infringe on...

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