National Identity and Religion – State Relations: Israel in Comparative Perspective

Israeli Constitutional Law at a Crossroads, (Gideon Sapir, Dafna Barak-Erez and Aharon Barak eds.), 503-516 (Hart Publishing 2013)

14 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2015

See all articles by Gila Stopler

Gila Stopler

College of Law and Business - Ramat Gan Law School

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

This article explores the connection between national identity and religion-–state relations in Israel and places it in a comparative perspective. It argues that with respect to national identity religion can serve two functions: first, the unity function (an inclusive function) – to unite different individuals or groups under a unitary national identity; and second, the gatekeeping function (an exclusionary function) – to make sure that the boundaries of the national group remain clear and to exclude from the group anyone who may dilute or threaten its identity. Next, the article discusses several countries in which religion is a central component of national identity, including Greece, Malaysia and Turkey. It shows how the nexus between national identity and religion finds expression in different religion-–state structures, and point to the functions that it serves. Finally, the article describes religion and state relations in Israel, discussing in what ways Israel’s chosen model of religion–state relations was expected to aid the strengthening of the Jewish national identity. The article claims that the Israeli model has been partially successful, at best, in achieving both its unity function and its gatekeeping function and argues that a major cause for the Israeli model’s limited success is the state’s lack of control over its own religious establishment.

Keywords: religion state relations, national identity

JEL Classification: NA

Suggested Citation

Stopler, Gila, National Identity and Religion – State Relations: Israel in Comparative Perspective (2013). Israeli Constitutional Law at a Crossroads, (Gideon Sapir, Dafna Barak-Erez and Aharon Barak eds.), 503-516 (Hart Publishing 2013), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2670662

Gila Stopler (Contact Author)

College of Law and Business - Ramat Gan Law School ( email )

Ben Gurion 26
(p.o.b. 852 Bnei Brak)
Ramat Gan, 51108
Israel

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