Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

Israel’s rule over the Palestinians has created a new Judaism

TJI Pick
Print this

Published: 11 April 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

The experience of sovereignty and rule over another people has created messianic fervour new to Judaism, writes MENACHEM KLEIN.  

If the face of Judaism reflects the situation of Jews, and if Jews shape Judaism in keeping with the circumstances of time and place – then what Jews are doing in the sovereign State of Israel is also shaping Judaism. Sovereignty involves the exercise of effective rule over a territory and a population. It behoves us, then, to consider how ruling a territory and population has changed Judaism. And, in the main, how rule over a non-Jewish population – in our case, the Palestinians – has spawned a new Judaism.

There is no precedent in Jewish history for the existence of a Jewish state that constitutes a regional power and rules another people.

The Jewish people was always ethnocentric. It believes in the supremacy of its ethnic collective over other nations. This is a blatantly hierarchical conception, according to which the Jew is superior to the non-Jew. But throughout history, this was a supremacy that lacked the force of a state and an apparatus for wielding control over non-Jews. On the contrary: The Jews were inferior in status in the social and religious order that was established by the empires and states that ruled them over two millennia.

The emancipation, modernity and Jews’ integration into contemporary life created a new conception of the so-called Chosen People. This conception was translated into a universal-educational mission, rather than referencing the insular superiority of Orthodoxy.

Sovereignty, power and rule over the Palestinians have transformed Judaism again. The new Jewish messianism is a product of historical success, the achievement of Jewish sovereignty and the wielding of power over non-Jewish surroundings.


Israel’s rule over the Palestinians has created a new Judaism (Haaretz)

Photo: A religious woman exhorts others at the Western Wall (Deborah Stone)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site