Orthodoxy in Israel
To the Editor:
If S. Zalman Abramov maintains an “austere objectivity” in his treatment of the Jewish religion in the Jewish state, the same cannot be said of Howard M. Sachar, who uses his review of Abramov’s book, Perpetual Dilemma: Jewish Religion in the Jewish State [Books in Review, October 1977], as a spring-board to launch an intemperate attack against Orthodoxy in Israel. . . .
To state that the rabbinate of Israel has had nothing to offer with regard to practical matters of ethical conduct, civil functioning, or national survival is quite typical of the viewpoint of those in Israeli public life, prior to the accession of Menahem Begin, who refuse to inquire into or to acknowledge the vast richness of this tradition. If Mr. Sachar were to undertake such an inquiry, he might conclude that the Orthodox subculture, rather than being a “counterpoint to the nation’s vaunted democratic achievements,” is an essential foundation for them.
This may explain why the religious parties of Israel have bargaining power greater than what their 15 per-cent voting strength would seem to entitle them to. The reason for a seemingly passive acquiescence by the majority may be a less than fully conscious realization that the Jewish tradition provides the Israeli public with its principal justification and primary source of strength in its mortal struggle for survival.