Say what you will about Israel, but there’s no question that it is a country in which religious diversity is embraced and celebrated. Israel is holy to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baha’i; a short walk around Jerusalem’s Old City, or Haifa, or Acco, will show centuries of religious history from the different faiths. While Israel is unquestionably the Jewish state, she takes her religious diversity seriously.
Making the rounds today on the blogs is this article from JTA, which describes how Jews are being forced to check their kippot, tefilllin, and other religious paraphernalia at the border with Jordan. Apparently it’s a little too risky and dangerous to be visibly Jewish in Jordan, despite the 1994 peace accords. While I’m sure it makes sense for Jews to not wear their religious articles in Amman, or Petra, confiscating kippot and forbidding their use strikes me as wrong.
Can you imagine the outrage if Israel forced Christian pilgrims to leave their rosary beads at Ben-Gurion Airport, or forbade the wearing of abayas or hijabs? Of course it’s out of the question and would never happen. But when Jordan takes kippot and tefillin from inbound Jewish travelers (on top of the fact that it’s illegal to Jewish if you’re Jordanian) we just shrug our shoulders.