This is an article I read a few days ago in the International Herald Tribune. I thought it was relevant in many ways to Pakistan, though it is about Israel. The claim to original secularism in some form by intellectuals of these otherwise confessional states is very similar. As with Israel, the demand for Pakistan too was opposed by the religious orthodoxy. Like Israel, Pakistan’s founders also envisaged equal rights for minorities. And like Israel, in Pakistan too the original idea has been hijacked by a caricature of it. The main difference is that in Pakistan’s case, the demand was territorially restricted but in Israel’s case it was global. I think this should make for an interesting discussion. -YLH
WILL Israel remain a Zionist state? If so, what kind? These are the important questions in Israeli politics today, and will be looming over the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority scheduled to begin Thursday in Washington.
The secular Zionist dream was fundamentally democratic. Its proponents, from Theodor Herzl to David Ben-Gurion, sought to apply the universal right of self-determination to the Jews, to set them free individually and collectively as a nation within a democratic state. (In fact, the Zionist movement had a functioning democratic parliament even before it had a state.) Continue reading