Sand is right about the existence of an Israeli culture and wrong about everything else. Our gov -- like any gov -- is secular. It may have the menorah as its symbol and pay rabbis (actually to keep them from criticizing the state on key issues), it remains secular. It has taken the colors and the symbols of the Jews, but is firmly secular. Blaming our gov is easy, actually almost too easy. But the blame has nothing to do with a supposed Jewishness of the state, contrary to what Sand thinks. It has almost everything to do with power and corruption, like in virtually any other state. Secular identity of the state is a fact and everyone benefits from it, Jew and non-Jew. Even ultra-orthodox and arabs benefit from the secular environment they so vehemently despise but live in. Discrimination can come under many different names, including that of religion, but it remains discrimination. And the state that enforces discrimination is an ultimate secular state. This state has a much deeper responsibility in the occupation and discrimination than the few excited rabbis that Haaretz like to hear and make hear. It suffices to mention our army. So Sand's need to justify himself ("to stop being Jewish") is revealing in itself. I can predict that the political arguments won't quench the need for a further justification. A much more deeper Jewish thinker (Leo Strauss) said more than half a century ago: "The state of Israel has not solved the problem of galut. It has only intensified it." True religious Jews (not necessarily in the narrow sense that some give to the word religious) living in this country understand this statement much better than Sand's whole book.
Monitor: Clashes near Damascus despite truce there, five killed in Aleppo (Reuters)