Take a look here.
This is Hofesh. An Israeli organization founded to fight oppression and religious domination within the State of Israel. Unfortunately, there is no strong separation between synagogue and state as there is in America. And because of this there are a number of religious laws passed which bind the entire state and force the less religious and non-religious to follow them.
Examples of some these according to Hofesh are:
- It is illegal to grow pork in Israel, and many municipalities forbid selling pork.
- It is impossible to get married in Israel by a civil ceremony.
- There is nearly no public transportation in Israel on Saturday.
- It is illegal to open a business on Saturday.
- Hurting someone's religious feelings is a criminal offense.
- Orthodox religious women and many religious men are exempt from military service (which lasts for at least 3 years for men and nearly 2 years for women).
- Religion lessons are mandatory in all Israeli schools.
- You cannot buy non-Kosher goods in major food chains (with the recent exception of Tiv Taam).
- A class in a religious school has on the average 26 students. A secular class has close to 40.
- The State does not fund non-religious burial ceremonies.
- Some of the main streets in Jerusalem are blocked every Saturday, because the orthodox people want them to be.
I spoke to a friend of mine about this issue. He's a religious guy but still aware of and willing to accept some aspects of secular knowledge (though he claims to be a YEC I'm not entirely sure if that's what he "really" thinks, but I don't know) and while he said that he wanted a religious state in Israel he did recognize the validity of my view of the issue as he values civil rights, freedom of religion and the wisdom in separating church and state.
He saw the issue of the Haredi and Hiloni as trying to force each other to do what they want. But I explained to him that that only goes one way. The Haredi are the ones trying to force their views of religious obligations on the rest of the population but the Hiloni just want everyone to do what they want. Religious people can believe what they want and do what they want, just don't force others to do it too. This isn't an equal battle. It's a fight between those who wish to force their views on others vs those who wish to follow their own path and have no problem with others doing the same.
As far as I'm concerned, Israel should be a distinctly Jewish state because otherwise there's no point, but also a secular state. While religion is an important segment in our Jewish heritage it is far from alone. Most Jews are _not_ religious and even fewer are Ultra-Orthodox. There's a lot more to the Jewish people than religion and the path of our people should not be dictated by the religious demands of a small minority.