Modern Political History of Israel and Iran

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Since World War II, religion has played a significant role in the modern political history of Israel and Iran. Both countries are self-defined theological states (Israel as a Jewish state, Iran as an Islamic state). Although the impact of religion changes across time and context, religion has largely defined political identity for both Israel and Iran. Yet, modern states are host to many paradoxes. Religion is important in defining these states, however the workings of each country are not always religious in practice. The State of Israel was founded in 1948 as a Jewish state. At the time of Israel’s founding, Jews made up only 32% of Palestine (Yiftachel, 58). In order to accomplish the goal of creating a Jewish state, it was imperative to establish a majority Jewish population. To ensure a Jewish majority, Israel passed the 1950 Law of Return, which allowed any Jew the ability to immigrate and be granted citizenship (Gelvin, 284). Because of immigration, Israel was able to establish a majority Jewish population; the percentage of Jews in 2009 was 80% (Shtull-Trauring, 2010). However, the many immigrants to Israel came from around the globe (mainly from Europe, and to some extent from other parts of the Middle East). Constructing a national identity was difficult, as many immigrants had assimilated into the cultures of their previous countries. Although Israel was able to establish a Jewish majority in the first ten years of its existence, it also had to establish a Jewish national culture that could tie diverse immigrant groups together. This new national culture was achieved by constructing religion as the superordinate tie that all immigrants shared. Judaism provided these new Israelis with the shared identity needed for nat... ... middle of paper ... ...societies of these two countries. Works Cited Erdbrink, Thomas. "Iran to Women: No Skiing Unless with a Male Guardian." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. Gelvin, James L. The Modern Middle East: A History. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print. Majd, Hooman. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran. 1st ed. New York: Doubleday, 2008. Print. Shtull-Trauring, Asaf. "Poll Shows Ranks of Secular Jewish Minority in Israel Continued to Drop in 2009." Haaretz.com. Haaretz, 17 May 2010. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. Whose State? Whose Religion? New York, N.Y: Films Media Group, 2005. Internet resource. Yiftachel, Oren. "Zionist and Palestinian Nationalism: The Making of Territorial Identities." Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2006. 51-83. Print.
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