On the surface the current turmoil in Israel is about judicial reform, the tension between different branches of government and left-wing and right-wing politics. But under the surface it’s about religion, about whether or not Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, or a democratic state where the majority happens to be Jews.
And this is coming to the surface in increasing protests against and attacks on religious Jews by those purportedly concerned only with judicial reform and “saving democracy.” Because to them, a religious system dominated by rabbis is anathema to democracy.
But the rabbis aren’t going anywhere. So a growing number of secular Israelis are saying they will.
No, not abroad. In fact, they don’t intend to move at all. Rather, they are proposing a new two-state solution: Israel and Judea.
The Secession Movement (תנועת ההיפרדות) responded to Monday’s passing of the “reasonableness” law by encouraging supporters to “not get upset. This will only bring more followers and hasten our vision.”
And what is that vision? According to a tweet by the movement, it sees Israel splitting into two states–a secular democratic State of Israel and a religious authoritarian State of Judea–in the next 20-30 years.
According to whoever wrote the tweet, “we will know we are on the right path when the conservative/fascist side outlaws talk of [succession] and defines it as treason.” As a side note, it is in fact considered treasonous in most Western democracies to promote succession.
For now, the movement encouraged followers to “market the vision, add supporters and gain strength for the next election so that we will win and can then activate the phased plan.”
Normally, such talk would be dismissed as a fringe phenomenon. But amid present circumstances, it’s taking on a more serious tone.
The left-wing newspaper Haaretz has for months been accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of serving “the State of Judea” over the State of Israel. And they are entirely serious. They already view national religious Jews, especially those “settlers” living in Judea and Samaria, as a separate nation, and enemies of “democratic” Israel.
On Tuesday, Channel 13 News anchor Sivan Cohen Saban tweeted that The Succession Movement has “gained thousands of followers in recent days.”
On the movement’s Facebook page, they state that the goal is “to promote the idea that the State of Israel should split into a federation or into two separate states, so that each segment of the population can live according to its values.”
To be clear, the numbers involved in this movement are still very small, and no mainstream politician would today go along with such a scheme. But the idea is on the table, and that alone is cause for concern, and for getting more familiar with Israel’s historical splits and the dire consequences that followed.
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