Gabriel Abensour


The section elucidates the views of the Masorti public on an array of core issues in Israeli society. This discussion has two objectives: to map Masorti views within Israeli society as a whole, and to try to determine whether the Masortim constitute a separate group with a distinct vision for Israeli society.

One daunting social challenge facing Israel is the tension between the state’s democratic character and its Jewish character. Different parties want to strengthen one side over the other, while the very concepts of “Jewish” and “democratic” are mired in interpretive and ideological controversy. I have therefore chosen to begin this section with a consideration of the Masorti public’s theoretical outlook on Israel’s definition as a “Jewish and democratic” state. After we examine this theoretical outlook, we will focus on each component – Jewish and democratic – separately, and try to understand the Masorti public’s attitude toward a range of values elementary to any democratic political system. Finally, we will focus on the meaning of the concept “Jewish.” We will look at how the Masorti public defines its Jewishness, the degree to which it feels a sense of connection to Jews who differ from them or who live outside of Israel, and the kind of Jewish character it would like to impart to the state.

This section is based on numerous surveys conducted in recent years by various research institutes – surveys that examined the Israeli public’s views on an array of subjects. In most cases, the surveys did not examine the views of the Masorti public specifically, but rather of the public at large, with the category “Masorti” presented as one of the options for identity/religiosity classification. This has advantages and disadvantages. The obvious disadvantage is that the surveys investigate outlooks pertaining to the entire populace, not views that might be specific to the Masorti public. Also, the questions were formulated with no special sensitivity to any given sector. However, the key advantage is that the survey writers did not pre-define what “Masorti” is, but rather allowed each interviewee to define it him or herself. Moreover, some of the surveys were conducted annually, making it possible to study trends and developments over time.