Synagogue and State in the Israeli Military: A Story of "inappropriate Integration"

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The encounter between synagogue and state in Israel's military context raises a variety of complex questions that defy conventional paradigms. While religious liberty continues to occupy a special place in most liberal democratic thought, the legal and philosophical literature pondering its various dimensions has largely lost analytic sight of the fascinating intersection of military and religion. This article embarks on analyzing the appropriate integration between loyalty to God and to country, and between religious male and secular female soldiers. Evaluating examples of synagogue-state tensions and accommodationist policies, this article explores the manner and extent to which the Israeli military (IDF) responds to the observant soldier's multiple identities as a religious minority member and a faithful citizen of the larger secular polity. Against this backdrop, the article analyzes the vexed challenges posed to multicultural theory by the equivocal status of the Orthodox community as a numerical minority but "power majority" within the military, and by the IDF's unique exercise of multiculturalist protection, termed herein "external restrictions," imposed on majority group members. It concludes that the ongoing "religionization" of the IDF through the 2002 "Appropriate Integration" regulation has served as a powerful counterforce to gender equality, fostering a growing practice of female exclusion through which women are disenfranchised from core, non-negotiable protections of citizenship. The article identifies as the prime casualty of this aggressive multicultural accommodation not only secular women's hard-won equality of opportunity, but also the very rights and status of minority women within their own religious community.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)223-294
Number of pages72
JournalLaw and Ethics of Human Rights
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2016


  • Israel
  • integration
  • military
  • minority
  • multicultural accommodation
  • religion and state
  • women

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science


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