Talk About: Law and Religion

Blog of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies

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Judicial reform proposed in 2023 and promoted by the Israeli government has led to turmoil in society. While some support the reform and others oppose it, the offer of this reform has led to extensive public discourse.

One concern of reform opponents is that the reform will turn Israel into a Halakhic (Jewish-law-based) state. This post challenges this concern and argues that the proposed judicial reform, independent of whether or not it passes, will not have a real effect on the relationship between religion and the state in Israel. …

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The words of Harari et al. above are symptomatic of contemporary technological culture’s preoccupation with spectacular AI—with the awesome and almost redemptive promises attributed to this really not-so-novel form of technology through what’s perhaps best described as a highly effective viral marketing endeavour.

But what stands out in this quote is the explicit affirmation of AI’s capacity to leverage our weaknesses in relation to art, politics, and religion and to augment these profoundly human realities in concert with the actual ability to “form intimate relationships with human beings.”

These are quite strong words, with significant interwoven metaphysical assumptions, many of which are decidedly problematic. …

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Simcha Rothman, member of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) and chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, is working with Justice Minister Yariv Levin to change the Israeli regime by taking over the judiciary and removing checks on the executive branch and its leader. Rothman was quoted in closed conversations in April 2023 saying that Israel is at the start of a religious war and that he has no intention of withdrawing from passing the reform. Rothman’s statement reveals the deep divide in the Jewish-Israeli public regarding the status of religion in the country and religion’s centrality in the current national crisis as well as in the question of the nation’s continued shared existence. The intensity of the intra-Jewish religious rift and its effect on the state are surprising when considering the starting point, in the days of the establishment of the state, when the religious minority in the largely secular Jewish population was small and its political power so scant that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion believed it would become extinct within a few years. …

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I’d like to start by saying that contemporary Ukraine and Russia are antipodes in many respects, including with respect to religious freedom. While Ukraine has one of the most liberal religious legal frameworks in the region and a highly competitive religious market, Russia has managed to create a very restrictive religious legislation with one religion, the Russian Orthodox Church, being strongly endorsed and many religious minorities being severely discriminated against and oppressed. This stark contrast between Russia and Ukraine goes far beyond religion, and it is not an exaggeration to say that the Russia-Ukraine war is the war between two opposite political systems, where Ukraine’s is based on freedom and competition, while Russia’s is based on lack of freedom and on oppression. …

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Human Dignity Initiative

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an invitation to a global conversation about preserving and protecting human dignity for everyone everywhere.

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