Israeli Culture

Other Considerations

  • The term ‘Jewish’ can be quite complex, as it can be both an and religious identifier. Some see Jewishness and religious Jewishness as deeply intertwined, while others view them as separate identities. The Pew Research Center found that 22% of Israel’s Jewish population considered Jewishness as a matter of religion, 55% considered it a matter of ancestry and culture, and 23% considered it to be a mixture of religion, ancestry and culture.1 Importantly, this means that not all those who identify as ‘Jewish’ strictly follow Jewish religious practices (such as adhering to certain dietary requirements).
  • Specific Jewish religious groups, conservative right-wing Israelis and the current Israeli government refer to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria” (the biblical names for the region). Meanwhile, and more liberal left-wing Israelis refer to the area as the West Bank. For more information on the West Bank, see Palestinian culture.
  • In 2018, the Knesset passed a law establishing national for Jewish people in Israel alone. This law further designated the Hebrew language as the official language of Israel, while Arabic was reclassified from an official language to a language with “special status”. This further alienated Palestinians and Arabs in Israel, as well as some Jewish (Sephardic/Mizrahi) Israelis with roots in Arab countries.
  • It is important to be sensitive regarding the use of the term “Palestine” and other related terms. Some Israelis may avoid using the word ‘Palestine’ and may avoid referring to those who identify as ‘Palestinian’. Most often, the term ‘Arab’ will be used instead (for instance, ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ rather than ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’).
  • Smoking cigarettes is common throughout Israel, and it is quite normal to find people smoking in public spaces.

 

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1 Pew Research Center, 2016

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