Thu, 23 March 2023
Part of what animates the two sides in Israel’s current judicial-reform crisis has to do with the specific proposals that the Knesset is currently debating. But the crisis is not only about these concrete constitutional issues. It is also a proxy for a larger cultural and sociological conflict pitting different sectors of Israeli society against one another.
Critics of the proposed reforms tend to be in the political center and the political left, to be more secular or at least critical of Israel’s Orthodox rabbinic establishment, and to be comfortable in the vision of Israel passed down by its largely Ashkenazi founding generation. Supporters of the reforms, meanwhile, tend to be on the political right, to be more religious and more supportive of the rabbinate, and to belong to a coalition of Israelis with roots in the Arab Middle East, North Africa, and, in part, the former Soviet Union.
Yehoshua Pfeffer is uniquely positioned to discuss all sides of the issue. A rabbi and the editor of Tzarich Iyun, a magazine of ḥaredi ideas, Pfeffer also clerked on Israel’s Supreme Court. He recently wrote an essay in Tzarich Iyun called “No Longer a Minority: Behind the Veil of Israel’s Public Unrest.” He joins Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver to discuss that essay and the broader schisms in Israeli society today.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.