The fear of the impending ruin of the Israeli democracy has gotten to the Americans.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had no qualms stating her opinion about things like the "Leftist law" and the forcing of women to the back of the bus. Criticizing the internal affairs of another country may not be very polite, but the US allows itself to treat Israel as parents do their wayward son. Their right is rooted in their wallet – they pay a hefty sum for our existence.
I cannot promise the Americans that we will be reformed. On the contrary: Israeli society is doomed to be less democratic, less enlightened, less educated, less tolerant and poorer. The balance of political power reflects this process, and it is unlikely that the next elections will result in a government free of the haredim and nationalists' clutches.
The judicial system will still be under attack, the number of students who are unfamiliar with core studies will grow, the numbers of those working for a living will shrink, the rabbis' influence over the military will increase, as will law violations in the territories, and the shunning of women will become a growing, common practice in certain sectors.
Religion and radical nationalism do not always go hand in hand, but they do so more often than not, because religious myths and nationalistic myths feed each other. For us, this mesh is in the very core of our culture.
The demographic trends in Israel, the malignant Arab hostility and the structure of the government reduce the chances that Israel will follow an enlightened path. Is seems that only a grave economical or security crisis – something of historic proportions – may prompt a change; but such a crisis may devour our fragile country and no one wants that.
What can be done?
Under such circumstances, the enlightened citizen should ask himself what can be done. I suggest partisan initiatives – they will not stop this trend, but proud individuals need to feel that they are doing everything they can, despite a predetermined future. The social protest has proven that private initiatives can rapidly grow into a broad social movement.
So here are a few initial suggestions (which are written in the male form, but apply to both sexes). Further suggestions would be welcome:
Distance yourself from the Orthodox establishment: Don't get married through the rabbinate, but opt for a domestic partnership contract.
You can have a traditional marriage ceremony, even a halacich one, but don’t seek the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's validation for your marriage. Do not succumb to the threat that your children would be unable to marry someone whose parents did marry through the Rabbinate. If your children's love for their partners can't overcome this hurdle they would be better off not getting married. Thousands of couples in Israel, even those who cherish tradition, live happily without having gone through the Rabbinate and their children are not deprived of anything.
People who are not considered Jews according to the Halacha and do not wish to live by its rules should not perjure themselves by converting to Judaism.
Israel's tolerant sectors do not differentiate between those carrying the "kosher Jew" seal and those who do not. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union are full fledged Israelis – in their language, in the culture that they have embraced and in their contribution to this country.
If you are a woman of IDF-drafting age, think carefully about joining your peers who are planning to serve in the military. Draft dogging is easy. The IDF needs you, and has even widened the scope of opportunities available for female soldiers, but under the influence of Religious Zionism rabbis, it is degrading women.
For the men and women fighting for women's equality the military is seen as a promoting system, but that is doubtful these days, since humiliation cannot coincide with promotion.