Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 87–104 | Cite as

Politicized Secularism in Israel: Secularists as a Party to Communal Conflict

  • Nadav ShelefEmail author


Most of the attention paid to the religious–secular conflict in Israel has been devoted to the religious side. As a result, secular Israelis remain conceptualized as a residual category, as atomized individuals who share little but a lack of religiosity, and thus as passive subjects in the conflict. Drawing on lessons from identity politics, this article argues that secular fear of the religious, especially the ultra-orthodox, has led segments of the secular Israeli public increasingly to think of themselves as secularists, making their shared ‘non-religious’ identity politically relevant. To the extent that secularist social and political entrepreneurs succeed in bringing this about, the relationship between religious and secular is likely to resemble inter-communal conflict rather than tension between interest groups within a single community.


Secular Religious–secular conflict Identity politics Israel 


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Harvey M. Meyerhoff Assistant Professor of Modern Israel StudiesUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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