Katya, France

July 20, 2011

Dear Avi, thank you for taking the time to look at my questions.

First of all, from the point of view of Israeli society, and especially the IDF, how do you see the (apparent) increasing influence of ultra-orthodox/haredi/hard-core religious elements in a liberal, pluralistic state? Is this a problem? A conflict? Does it have the potential to balkanize or complicate things?

I am 33, plump, and disabled. I cannot fire a gun or control a crowd. What can ordinary people like me DO to help Israel, and help the situation? What action should ordinary people like myself be taking to take a stand against terrorism and the designs of illiberal islamist fascism?

Hi Katya,

A pleasure to meet you!

The bursting demographic of the haredi/ultra-orthodox sector here in Israel is undeniable, and will ultimately push Israel further and further to the political right. As long as secular birthrates remain low, the exploding population in the religious sector will continue to influence the military, political and social structure of Israeli society. This reality is somewhat discouraging for me as a secular Israeli, since I believe that religious influence will increasingly permeate many of the democratic aspects of life here, including the secular values that the State of Israel was founded upon. We have seen the recent riots in Jerusalem against secular causes as proof that there is indeed palpable tension between each the secular and religious community here. In the end, I absolutely see the rift between the two communities as an growing complication within Israeli society and our relationship with countries in the region.

To be an advocate for Israel, one doesn’t need to join the military or control a crowd. Positive, pro-Israel activists like you can contribute to Israel in a variety of equally important ways, including community outreach, public relations, inter-faith dialogue, fundraising, Israel education, etc. I would suggest contacting local organizations in your area that specialize in such activities to find out how you can get involved…of course, you can always recommend Friend a Soldier to others to help us get the message out!

Health and Happiness in 2011,

Avi

Click here to read what Daniel thinks about the Orthodox influence on Israeli politics

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