Good question. There are certainly many religious parties composing Israel's government. This is out front in the open. If they are, so is the United States, if not in law at least in practice. Witness the "so help me God" in the Presidential Oath of Office. It appears we we have subtly slipped from secular to theocratic while they have always been theocratic. Not good for atheists methinks.
Given a choice of where to live between the two neighbours Israel and Syria, which would you choose ? Israel is a theocracy in the same way the US is - they have a loudmouth nutjob minority that generate enough noise as to give the casual observer that they are a majority. Israel is mostly secular, and some parts are a pretty wild place to visit if you're into booze, women and excess, according to several military aquaintences of mine.
I personally would not wont to live any where in the Mideast. But it's mostly because non of the places have cultures that I feel comfortable about. Israel does appear secular, but it is much harder to get permits if you don't belong to the Jewish religion, including christians. Yes boozing it would be a nice, and I think women generally are more comfortable in Israel, but there are also Jewish fundamentalist who want women to be in a separate room because they don't want to be in the same room as somebody who is menstruating. As a queer person, I would probably be more comfortable in Israel, than most of the surrounding Muslim areas.
US culture does have theocratic attributes, but it it isn't nearly as theocratic, and we don't have a huge wall that any specific religion must live behind with aggressive checkpoints that take hours to go trough.
Also, unlike Israel that has a Star of David on it, the US doesn't have religious symbols on it.
I think because such questions as this are intentionally kept out of the journalistic discourse in the media there is no glib retort. The question requires information, scholarship and synthisis. Also, in context, the Nation of Israel has what appear to be Islamic theocracies surrounding it. When you are surrounded by opposing theocracies what better means of defense do a "faith based people" have at their disposal than a theocracy they control? Israel is called "A Jewish State" for the reason that it is composed of Jewish peoples who run it's government as they see fit. I don't think it can be called secular, given the factions which make up it's governmental coalitions. To it's credit, Unlike the United States, Israeli governmental factions are upfront about their agenda which in some ways informs us how to interact with them. Do we always process this information in the most secular ways? Nope.
If you look up "theocracy" in a dictionary, you will see that it is a state ruled by divine law directly or by those applying divine law. There is jewish law (the torah, talmud, etc.), and the state of Israel is neither ruled by that law nor by rabbis. Meanwhile, as one other poster mentioned, many surrounding states are ruled by religious, specifically muslim (i.e. sharia) law, most notably Iran. Many of the zionists who helped start the state were not particularly religious. And many of the citizens of Israel today are secular. And there are real democratic elections there. People in a party opposing that of the government do not get beat up or shot, unlike in the neighboring Gaza Strip, for instance, or Syria, where they simply disappear.... It is regrettable that Israel has chosen a state religion, but there are many states that have. There are multiple states and billions of people (particularly Christians and Muslims) who live in states with an official religion or, worse yet, in real theocracies. There is only one Jewish state with only a few million people. Why is Israel in particular of such special interest, I wonder?
Don't ask uncomfortable questions that spoil the "feel good" feeling of Western Palestinian activists. You should know Palestinian doo-doo doesn't smell.
This is near the top of the many things that make me embarrassed about being, essentially, a liberal at my core. Its also what contributes to the lunatic right being able to so easily slander and villify liberalism - to turn it into a curse word and kill any sensible discourse.
Brutal fact -
* Palestinian on Palestinian violence makes Israeli violence look tame. Just one recent report.
* Palestinian deaths at the hands of Palestinians exceeds deaths caused by Israelis, from the same article -
"In 2007, the death toll of Palestinians killed by Fatah or Hamas exceeded for the first time the number of Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israeli occupation forces," said Hamdi Shaqqura, director of the democratic development unit at Gaza's Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
It's true that Israel has done a lot wrong and it is true that pointing this out or being opposed to Israeli government policy does not in itself make one an antisemitic. But I wonder about people who *only* find fault with Israel and give a pass to brutal, theistic regimes elsewhere in the middle east. Or the rest of the world, for that matter. I wonder what *their* motives are, really.
Bill Eilfort:I wonder what *their* motives are, really.
Their motives are simple - find a cause that's not too big, packs a big emotional punch, and has easily identifiable scapegoats.
Not too big - doesn't overload the brain. Palestine is just the right, finite, size. Africa ? That's just too big and too hard.
Emotional punch - pick something the media has no problem reporting. Plenty of cafes and nightclubs nearby the Palestinian conflicts - the press are more than happy to keep the relentless reporting coming. Its a paid holiday when the cameras are off. Again, reporting in Africa means giving up creature comforts - not an assignment many journalists would want.
Easily Identifiable Scapegoats - THE JEWS !!! And the Jewish-American bankers. What could be easier ?
Blend all this together and its the perfect caring, concerned activists cause. Maximum feel-good effect with a minimum amount of work. Lets them sleep at night - its emotional morphine guaranteed to obliterate any guilt without changing a single fucking thing. Plus it'll help you get laid by showing of your sensitive inner soul.
Psychologically, its the same as Greenpeace's fixation with whales.