Should Americans weary of the mess within their own country wish for an interesting distraction – Israel is always there.

Something festers in the East.

A Land of Non-Homogenized Milk and Honey

Despite its nationalistic image of Jewish homogeneity, Israel is a place riddled with contradictions. While the country is indeed 80% Jewish (the rest are mostly Muslim Arabs), the Jewish population is composed of various distinct groups, each with its own horizon of national aspirations.

The oldest group, my own clan so to speak, is that of Jews of European origins with roots preceding the country’s founding. The WASPs of Israel. This group is largely non-religious, previously affiliated with the historical Labor Movement (think Kibbutzim and so forth), and indeed hails from the larger-than-life founders of the country who conferred upon it all of its (rather confusing) institutions and created the modern state of Israel.

This group and its co-travelers probably amount to about 30-35% of the Jewish population. They include the entirety of the Israeli Left but also that “new class” of not-exactly-left mobile and professional types. The Tony Blair sorts who wish for everything to be like a European suburb with pride flags and parades for “human rights,” all expertly managed by technocrats.

Opposite of this group, as quite its inverse in almost every possible way, are the Ultra-Orthodox. These are Jews who are also mostly, but not only, of European origins, but who take Judaism very, very seriously. Rather than aspiring to make millions through the selling of start-up companies, these Jews listen to their rabbis and as an ideal, dedicate their lives to the study of Jewish law and scripture. These are the ones wearing dark suits and dark hats and so forth.


Categories: Geopolitics

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