L’Observatoire des religions
2008 Report on International Religious Freedom

Slight decline in respect for religious freedom in Israel

jeudi 16 octobre 2008

The Israeli Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty provides for freedom of worship and the Government generally respected this right in practice. While there is no constitution, government policy continued to support the generally free practice of religion.

Nevertheless, some increases in societal abuses and discrimination contributed to a slight decline in respect for religious freedom during the reporting period. Specifically, societal abuses and discrimination increased against some evangelical Christian groups as well as Messianic Jews (persons who identify as Jews but who believe Jesus was the Messiah).

Relations among religious and ethnic groups—between Jews and non-Jews, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and non-Arabs, secular and religious Jews, and among the different streams of Judaism—often were strained during the reporting period. This was due primarily to the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Government’s unequal treatment of non-Orthodox Jews, including the Government’s recognition of only Orthodox Jewish religious authorities in personal and some civil status matters concerning Jews.

For example, Government allocations of state resources favor Orthodox (including Modern and National Religious streams of Orthodoxy) and Haredi (sometimes called "ultra-Orthodox") Jewish religious groups and institutions. The "status quo" agreement reached at the founding of the state provides that the Government will implement certain policies based on Orthodox Jewish interpretations of religious law.

Jewish marriages performed in the country are not recognized by the Government unless they are performed by the Orthodox Jewish establishment. The Orthodox Jewish establishment also determines other state practices such as who is buried in Jewish state cemeteries, limiting this right to individuals considered "Jewish" by Orthodox standards.

The construction of a separation barrier by the Government of Israel due to security concerns, particularly in and around East Jerusalem, severely limited access to holy sites and seriously impeded the work of religious organizations that provide education, healthcare, and other humanitarian relief and social services to Palestinians. Such impediments were not exclusive to religious believers or to religious organizations, and at times the Israeli Government made efforts to lessen the impact on religious communities.

Source : 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom (USA)

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