Theocratic Democracy: The Social Construction of Religious and Secular Extremism

Hardcover | December 13, 2010

byNachman Ben-Yehuda

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The state of Israel was established in 1948 as a Jewish democracy, without a legal separation between religion and the state. Ever since, the tension between the two has been a central political, social, and moral issue in Israel, resulting in a cultural conflict between secular Jews and thefundamentalist, ultra-orthodox Haredi community. What is the nature of this cultural conflict and how is it managed? In Theocratic Democracy, Nachman Ben-Yehuda examines more than fifty years of media-reported unconventional and deviant behavior by members of the Haredi community. Ben-Yehuda finds not only that this behavior has happened increasingly often over the years, but also that its most salient feature isviolence - a violence not random or precipitated by situational emotional rage, but planned and aimed to achieve political goals. Using verbal and non-verbal violence in the forms of curses, intimidation, threats, arson, stone-throwing, beatings, mass violations, and more, Haredi activists try topush Israel toward a more theocratic society. Driven by a theological notion that all Jews are mutually responsible and accountable to the Almighty, these activists believe that the sins of the few are paid for by the many. Making Israel a theocracy will, they believe, reduce the risk oftranscendental penalties. Ben-Yehuda shows how the political structure that accommodates the strong theocratic and secular pressures Israel faces is effectively a theocratic democracy. Characterized by chronic negotiations, tensions, and accommodations, it is by nature an unstable structure.However, in his fascinating and lively account, Nachman Ben-Yehuda demonstrates how it allows citizens with different worldviews to live under one umbrella of a nation-state without tearing the social fabric apart.

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The state of Israel was established in 1948 as a Jewish democracy, without a legal separation between religion and the state. Ever since, the tension between the two has been a central political, social, and moral issue in Israel, resulting in a cultural conflict between secular Jews and thefundamentalist, ultra-orthodox Haredi communi...

Nachman Ben-Yehuda is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 6.5 × 9.41 × 1.18 inPublished:December 13, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199734860

ISBN - 13:9780199734863

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Table of Contents

Part One: Outlining the Study1. Theocratic Democracy and Cultural Conflicts2. Religion, Politics and Haredim in Israel3. Methodology: How Information Was Collected4. The Printed Media: Making News - Constructing RealitiesPart Two: Haredi Non-Conformity and Deviance5. Illustrative Events and Affairs6. Theocratic Underground Groups7. Themes of Deviance and UnconventionalityPart Three: Culture Conflict in the Media8. Life as It Should Be, The Right of the People Not to Know and Conspiracies of Silence9. Examining 50 Years of Haredi DeviancePart Four: Discussion and Conclusions10. Discussion: The Doctrine of Mutual Responsibility, Nonconformity and Deviance vs. Cultural Change and Stability11. Concluding Summary and some Global ObservationsBibliography