Netanyahu's Government Takes a Turn Toward Theocracy

The Israeli Prime Minister's new coalition includes members who would enforce religious prohibitions over democratic liberties.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition government, which was sworn in last week, is routinely referred to as "extreme right," but this tortures the meaning of conservatism in a democracy.Thirty-two of the coalition's members in the Knesset (out of a hundred and twenty parliamentary seats) are disciples of so-called religious parties, the political arms of theocratic communities.These parties, and factions of parties, can be divided into three groups: The largest alliance, with fourteen seats, is religious Zionism, whose forebears were preoccupied with preserving the rabbinic privileges afforded by the British Mandate in the new state of Israel—such as supervision over marriage, burial, conversion, and dietary laws, and state-supported religious schools—but which, since 1967, has been overtaken by the messianic claims of West Bank settlers.The Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, with seven seats, represent self-segregating communities living mainly in and around Jerusalem. Shas, with eleven seats, are a populist, anti-élite party of Orthodox Mizrahi immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East, who tend to be poorer and less educated."

Read more from Prof. Avishai about the current situation HERE via The New Yorker.