Corrections to JerryM story on Israel
This is my response to many of the inaccurate statements made by JerryM regarding Israel.
"Oh, do you know that in Israel women cannot wear religious garb or carry a Jewish Torah book to pray at the Western (or Wailing) Wall? "
"Jewish Torah book" There is no such animal. The Torah is a scroll not a book. It is not Jewish it contains Judaisms' Five Books of Moses. It is also not called the Wailing Wall by Jews. It is accurately called the "Kotel" Wall.
The Western Wall being one of the most important religious sites in Israeli.
The Western Wall is THE MOST "Important" Sacred would be more appropriate.
"Then I thought, well, much of Israel is controlled by Ultra-Orthodox Jews"
While Ultra-Orthodox political parties have had a grip on the political process by the nature of a parlimentary system this appears to be lessening as a result of outrage of many Israelis. But never has the country been controlled by the Haredi (Ulta-Orthodox). They assumed control over religious rites, etc but that too is under scutiny and the present government is in fact intiated a committee to look into making changes.
"There are many Reform Jews in Israel. If a Jewish female rabbi wants to pray in her garb while reading a Torah at the Western Wall, then the ultra fundamentalist types in Israel shouldn't be able to use the government to stop her."
There are many orthodox, reform, conservative, renewal and progressive Jews in Israel besides secular. All want to see the end of this old status quo. In fact the current struggle for the Ultra-Orthodox to relinquish power is currently in the mix. This includes their serving in the IDF or at the least doing national service.
One more correction: A Rabbi by its implication is Jewish. So calling someone a Jewish Rabbi makes no sense.
"By the way, in Israel only religious and not any civil/secular marriages are recognized. So in order to have your marriage recognized, you have to undergoe conversion to Orthodox Judaism, that is if you don't qualify as being Jewish enough. If you are a Reform Jew, you have to get married in an Orthodox wedding."
Much above is totally not true. There are now both religious and civil marriage available under certain conditions. Soon civil marriage will be a full fledge alternative. You do NOT have to undergo a "conversion" to Orthodoxy in order to get married. You also can get married and registered by any of the Jewish streams in Israel. But as of the moment the official recognition is limited. You do NOT need to get married in an orthodox wedding. You may have an orthodox Rabbi to officiate but the celebration is anything but orthodox.
Don't even dare trying to get married to a Muslim woman, you will be denied like an interracial couple in 1952 Alabama. The question is, why are these absurd marriage bans/prohibitions allowed to stand in 2012 Israel?
You can in fact get married to a Muslim woman just not by the Rabbinute. It is done today in Israel.
The grip of the ultra-orthodox has been around since the founding of the State and with so many wars and turmoil over the years changes to this situation has been less important. Today the present cultural and political map is entirely different and changes are in fact taking place.
The fact is, Israel today is at the very least, a quasi-theocracy.
Israel is anything but a quasi-theocracy. It is a full-fledged vibrant Democratic country with the press all too involved and critical. Freedom of expression, religion and opinion is the way of life in Israel and at times even at the risk of being provocative.
By and large this is sloppy journalism with little understanding of the country or the people. It is sad that laziness has taken the place of good reporting.