Real Jews: Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox and the Struggle for Jewish Identity in Israel
Most Americans would be shocked and disturbed to learn that the harsh rhetoric of virulent anti-Semitism is alive and thriving in Israel. Israel is a Jewish state, after all, so the anti-Semitism found there could hardly be aimed at all Jews. In fact, the Israeli brand of anti-Semitism pits secular Jews against fundamentalist Jews, the ones in traditional clothing following exacting religious rules.Writing from his unique vantage as a Tel Aviv resident, Noah Efron examines the discomfiture and spleen that some secular Jews feel when confronted with their ultra-Orthodox brethren. He recounts the difficult history of the ultra-Orthodox in Europe and Palestine, and examines their role in Israel, a country obsessed with and conflicted about what it means to be a Jew. Despite political, economic, cultural, and religious reasons for the tension between the two groups, little can explain the ferocity with which the Orthodox are loathed today, or the shocking rhetoric that many secular Jews use to denounce and ridicule them. This chilling and disturbing book documents the terrible details of an animosity based partly on fact and partly on a fantasy that threatens the future of Israel.