… The divide between people who enjoy their free time on weekends and those who feel imprisoned is not a matter of religion but a problem of socioeconomic injustice. What enables such religious coercion to persist and spread is the collusion between economic elites who neglect people who can’t buy their way out and the determination of religious extremists to enforce their way of life on others. These two groups, acting together, spawn the conflicts that are widening the divides in Israeli society. They have cemented a governing coalition that brings these groups together but pushes everyone else apart.

Similar problems are found in many other of what are commonly seen as issues of religion and state. What do non-religious Jews do in Israel if they want to get married? They can go abroad, to Cyprus or farther, and have a nice ceremony. They can pay a non-Orthodox rabbi to marry them. But if they can’t afford those, they will have no choice but to turn to the local rabbi, even if they have absolutely no religious beliefs and think what they are required to do and declare is utterly superfluous and foreign to their way of life.

On a daily basis they are forced, often unknowingly, to pay extra on virtually all food products – and on water and other household supplies as well – to support levels of kashrut that are meaningless to them. Since government spending on education in the peripheries has been dwindling, more parents send their children to subsidized religious schools that are all that parents can afford, even if their blatant proselytizing is outright offensive.

All of these situations exist because of an unholy alliance between intolerant religious representatives and economically privileged groups who are either insensitive to or simply ignorant of those who are not.