Religion, society, and politics in Israel

Asher Cohen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on four main aspects of relations among religion, society, and the state. The first section describes religion-state relations in Israel in comparison to the models prevalent in Western democracies. The second section categorizes the components of Jewish society in Israel by attitude toward tradition and religion. The third section focuses on the political system, with a look at the distribution of political parties based on religion and state and on models of accommodational and crisis politics. The fourth section examines two key disputes involving relations among religion, society, and the state: the public nature of the Jewish Sabbath as an expression of the struggle over the public space and the question of the boundaries of the Jewish collective, known in Israel as “who is a Jew.” After seventy years of existence, Israel still wrestles with a wide range of unresolved issues pertaining to religion, society, and state, reflecting an inability to reach stable and consensual solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190675585
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2021.


  • Conversion
  • Crisis politics
  • Judaism
  • Military service
  • Religion-state relations
  • Religious communities
  • Sabbath


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