The State of Israel as a Modern Jewish Enterprise: An Introduction


( Fishman ) , one of the leaders of religious Zionism , and Aharon Zisling , a head of the left-wing Mapam party , came to Ben-Gurion’s home . The work of composition was complete , except for the concluding sentence . The religious , from the outset , wanted the concluding sentence to explicitly mention the name of God ( such as “ the God of Israel” ) . The secular majority rejected this . Then the idea arose of mentioning the expression taken from the prayerbook : “ Zur Yisrael ve-Goalo ” ( Israel’s Rock and Redeemer ) , to which Zisling was passionately opposed . In the end , they compromised , with Ben-Gurion’s blessing , and wrote : “ Placing our trust in the ‘ Rock of Israel ’ [ Zur Yisrael ] , we affix our signatures to this proclamation . ” This episode is representative , in great degree , of the nature of the relationship between the secular and the religious in the Zionist movement , the Yishuv , and the State of Israel : a constitutive document , that is essentially historical-secular , includes an element taken from the world of religious beliefs , in a manner that enables religious identification while the secular public , out of the desire to reach a compromise , can give it another interpretation , that detaches it from its religious meaning . In the future , however , the relationship between the two camps would not be characterized by semantic compromises , but by those of fundamental and practical significance , that would decide the fate of individuals and groups . Almost all that has happened in this aspect of the life of the state , ever since the disagreement on the wording of the Declaration , has its roots in the history and development of the Zionist movement . Indeed , since its founding , life in the State of Israel has been marked by this contradiction : on the one hand , the establishment of the Jewish state ( and beforehand , the autonomous community of the Yishuv in Eretz Israel ) has enabled an outpouring of new , and basically secular , Jewish cultural creativity in all areas : from the economy and the institutions of the civil society to science , the arts , literature , and the development of the language and lifestyle . Almost all the other areas of modern culture described in this encyclopedia were given a strong impetus and incentive by the formation of an autonomous Jewish political community in Eretz Israel in which they could grow . And no less importantly : to the extent that culture touches upon the individual’s existential experience , that is , the manner in which individuals build and experience their personal lives , and not just social or public life , then the new Jewish public sphere , the fact that modern , secular Jewish culture exists as a legitimate part of the Jewish public space , has enabled many to live lives different from those of their parents in times past , and to feel , for better or worse , that they are members of a new generation and a different culture . The other side of the coin stems from the fact that not all the chains that in past generations halted this outburst of creativity have been removed ; the modernization and secularization process has not been completed in a way in which religious and secular Jews can live , build , and create without being subject to an authority that they did not choose , and in which the state will ensure , not only religious freedom , but also freedom from religion ; and that no political machinations will be able to prevent the realization of fundamental rights for every man - and especially , woman - in Israel . The difficulty in meeting these challenges ensues , not only from the residua of the religious heritage , but also from that deep political partnership between the leadership of the secular majority and the heads of the national-religious and ultra-Orthodox communities . This partnership proved its power by foiling the adoption of a constitution for the young state , soon after its establishment . The Jewish Agency , as the recognized representative of the Jewish people , undertook to apply the stipulations included in the United Nations resolution of November 29 , 1947 , including the explicit demands for full equal rights for all the inhabitants of the state to be established , freedom of conscience and religion , and the enactment of a constitution . These demands were included in the Declaration of the

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