Beyond the Religious-Secular Dichotomy

Looking at Five Israeli Dystopias

in Israel Studies Review
Author: Gideon Katz
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This article analyzes different images of Judaism presented in dystopic (anti-utopian) Israeli novels written in two different decades. In the earlier novels, written during the 1980s, Judaism was portrayed as an ancient religion revived by zealots who terrorize Israeli society, Taliban-style. Then I look at the thorough changes that Israeli dystopias have gone through in the last decade: for the first time in this genre, Judaism is imagined in new ways. It is presented as a religion that is not 'frozen' or 'radical'. Its followers are not stereotypical Diaspora Jews, but, rather, representatives of new Jewish identities that are taking shape in current Israeli society. This is emblematic of the deep changes now taking place in Israeli Judaism, particularly the weakening of the traditionally sharp secular-religious dichotomy.

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