Is there really a ‘separate but equal’?

So much for optimism in the midst of tragedy. I just found this article on Ynet news:

Poll: 51% of Israelis want separate secular, religious neighborhoods

A majority of the Israeli public believes religious families ought to live in separate neighborhoods, and even cities, to their secular counterparts, according to a new weekly poll new poll conducted by Ynet and the Gesher Organization.

When asked where a national religious family should ideally reside, 51% of respondents indicated that separating the various religious factions would be best. 29% of respondents indicated that religious families ought to live in their own specially designated communities, where as 22% supported the establishment of segregated oreligious neighborhoods within “religiously diverse” cities.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked… I would have thought that most ultra-religious would opt for religious-only communities, and sure enough, according to the survey, the majority do:

When breaking down this survey data according to religious affiliation, it appears that haredi respondents favored segregation most, with 61% of haredi respondents indicating that they preferred to live in separate communities and neighborhoods.

Not sure where the numbers fall for secular populations; personally, I’ve found that secular citizens fall under a scale of possibilities, from religious observance-tolerant, to religious observance-friendly, to religious observance-intolerant, to religious observance-spiteful.

I just don’t think ‘separate bu equal’ works, although I guess that depends what exactly you are trying to accomplish. Without any contact, the differences and view points are only going to deepend, widen and get more intense. What about those mandatory times when we must be unified? How is this one Israel, then? How does the nation stand any chance again enemies without any union?

And, perhaps, forget enemies for a moment: Where is the Jewish value of brotherhood? If the religious communities close themselves off, how do they expect other Jews to love the religion? Where is the good example? And how can secular Jews, with liberal values, expect to be followed in tolerance when they don’t show it?

But there’s always a middle ground, no matter how small. According to the survey, 33% respondents answered that they would favor joint communities with both secular and religious inhabitants.

That would be where I fit in. I’ve chosen to live in a mixed community, myself – majority secular, but religious-friendly – and I hope to raise my children here so that tolerance is ingrained in their mindset. That’s an extremely important value to me and look forward to a future where that only gets easier and easier. But if this survey has any grain of truth to it, well… It’s just more work for me and the rest of the 33%.


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