Sovereign Jews

Israel, Zionism, and Judaism

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Yaacov Yadgar
  • Albany, NY: 
    State University of New York Press
    , April
     288 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Smadar Lavie forthcoming.


Offers a novel exploration of the relationship between religion and the state in Israel.

The question of Jewish sovereignty shapes Jewish identity in Israel, the status of non-Jews, and relations between Israeli and Diaspora Jews, yet its consequences remain enigmatic. In Sovereign Jews, Yaacov Yadgar highlights the shortcomings of mainstream discourse and offers a novel explanation of Zionist ideology and the Israeli polity. Yadgar argues that secularism’s presumed binary pitting religion against politics is illusory. He shows that the key to understanding this alleged dichotomy is Israel’s interest in maintaining its sovereignty as the nation-state of Jews. This creates a need to mark a majority of the population as Jews and to distinguish them from non-Jews. Coupled with the failure to formulate a viable alternative national identity (either “Hebrew” or “Israeli”), it leads the ostensibly secular state to apply a narrow interpretation of Jewish religion as a political tool for maintaining a Jewish majority.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Yaacov Yadgar is senior lecturer in the department of political studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the author of Secularism and Religion in Jewish-Israeli Politics: Traditionists and Modernity.


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