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Alan Dowty: Is Israel Democratic?

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    Substance and Semantics in the Ethnic Democracy Debate Alan Dowty ... ASTRONOMERS RECENTLY DEALT WITH THE weighty question of whether to continue classifying
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2004
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      Substance and Semantics in the "Ethnic Democracy" Debate
      Alan Dowty


      ASTRONOMERS RECENTLY DEALT WITH THE weighty question of whether to
      continue classifying Pluto as a "planet" or to redefine it as
      a "transNeptunian object." This debate did not involve disagreement
      over the actual nature of Pluto itself; all agreed that it was
      smaller than the eight other planets, that it was composed mainly of
      ice, and that it had an unusual elliptical orbit. The question was
      whether to define the concept of "planet" elastically enough to
      include such an object, while still excluding numerous other objects
      that also orbit the sun. For the astronomers involved, this was
      largely arbitrary, since nothing inherent to the term "planet"
      (original meaning: "a wanderer") furnished operational guidelines for
      such distinctions.

      Similarly, there is remarkably little disagreement over the actual
      substance of Israeli politics in the recent debate over "ethnic
      democracy" in the pages of Israel Studies.1 Sammy Smooha classifies
      Israel in the historically-rare category of "ethnic democracy"; As'ad
      Ghanem, Nadim Rouhana, and Oren Yiftachel challenge the "democracy"
      component of that taxonomy and suggest instead the label
      of "ethnocracy," a somewhat less rare but still infrequent species;
      Ruth Gavison argues for moving the debate into explicit rather than
      submerged normative terms, and concludes that there is no necessary
      conceptual inconsistency between a state being Jewish and its being a
      democracy. All, however, describe the actual situation of non-Jews in
      Israel, in law and in practice, in similar terms. In Smooha's
      words, "minorities are treated as second-class citizens, feared as a
      threat, excluded from the national power structure, and placed under
      some control," while "at the same time [they] are allowed to conduct
      a democratic and peaceful struggle that yields incremental
      improvement in their status."2

      The question of whether this disqualifies Israel as a democracy
      obviously depends on the definition of democracy that is used. The
      term "democracy," like the term "planet," does not have an inherent
      and precise delimitation that is fixed for all time and is
      intuitively obvious in its application to specific cases. Standard
      dictionary definitions, such as "government by the people"
      or "majority rule," do not take us very far. Political scientists
      must operationalize the concept for it to be useful empirically, and
      such definitions will always be arbitrary to some extent. We usually
      ask only that the analyst be clear about the definition being used in
      order to avoid superfluous debate over semantics-though it is useful
      to remember that definitions deviating widely from conventional
      usage, no matter how precise, are still likely to invite

      Gavison points out that the use of a label loaded with positive and
      negative connotations--such as "democracy"--has especially serious
      consequences. This is further reason to be as precise as possible in
      defining such concepts operationally. Gavison then deals with these
      consequences on a political and normative level. I agree that the
      normative aspects of this issue should be made explicit, and I find
      her discussion of them illuminating. The focus here, however, will
      return to what she terms the "scholarly" or "conceptual" level,
      dealing with grubby issues of definition and methodology.


      Ghanem, Rouhana, and Yiftachel do begin with a clear definition of

      We perceive [democracy] as a system of government based on several
      key principles: (a) equal and inclusive citizenship and civil rights,
      (b) popular sovereignty and universal suffrage; (c) protection of
      minorities; and (d) periodic, universal and free elections.3

      To this the authors later add a de facto fifth requirement: a
      democracy must have clear borders. This is because it must have
      a "demos," defined in ancient Greece as "an inclusive body of
      empowered citizens within a given territory." This clearly implies,
      they argue, clear and permanent borders: "the state should belong to
      all its citizens and only to those citizens."4

      Ghanem, Rouhana, and Yiftachel have, therefore, supplied us with
      fairly precise and measurable criteria for differentiating between
      a "democracy" and a "non-democracy." Fair enough. By this definition
      it is also clear that they have a very strong case for flunking
      Israel. It is difficult to argue (and so far no participant in this
      debate has argued) that Palestinian Arabs in Israel enjoy full
      equality with Jews either de jure (that is, in terms of
      constitutional and legal structures) or de facto.5 As a minority,
      they are systematically excluded from important areas of Israeli
      life. The lack of clear borders is expressed in the citizenship
      extended to Jewish settlers (but not Palestinians) living beyond the
      Green Line and in the ambiguous relationship of Israel to Jewish
      diasporas around the world. The state of Israel is established
      explicitly on an ethnic basis, and, by the above criteria, an ethnic
      democracy is, indeed, a contradiction in terms (like "hot ice," as
      the authors put it).

      Political scientists working empirically on democracy have generally
      employed much less unforgiving criteria. Some even challenge the
      validity of dealing with political democracy as a dichotomous, either-
      or, concept: "I believe that we unnecessarily compromise the concept
      of political democracy by considering it a dichotomous phenomenon.
      This leads to a crude lumping of countries into the same category
      when in reality they have very different degrees of political
      democracy."6 And those who have chosen to dichotomize democracies and
      non-democracies have proceeded more cautiously.

      Dankwart Rustow, in 1967, applied the following four criteria:

      1. The free flow of information and the free expression of opinion.

      2. The competition of party programs and candidates for electoral

      3. The control of the government by elected representatives.

      4. Either (a) periodic changes in the composition of the ruling
      majority or (b) representation of all major electoral trends within

      Application of these criteria to contemporary states led to a list of
      31 democracies, Israel being one of them.7

      In 1971, Robert Dahl suggested a set of eight requirements for
      democracy (which he termed "polyarchy" in order "to maintain the
      distinction between democracy as an ideal system and the
      institutional arrangements that have come to be regarded as a kind of
      imperfect approximation of an ideal"):

      1. Freedom to form and join organizations.

      2. Freedom of expression.

      3. Right to vote.

      4. Eligibility for public office.

      5. Right of political leaders to compete for support and votes.

      6. Alternative sources of information.

      7. Free and fair elections.

      8. Institutions for making government policies depend on votes and
      other expressions of preference.

      Consequently Dahl classified 26 states, circa 1969, as "fully
      inclusive polyarchies," Israel being one of them.8

      G. Bingham Powell established five criteria for democracy in 1982:

      1. The legitimacy of the government rests on a claim to represent the
      desires of its citizens.

      2. The organized arrangement that regulates this bargain of
      legitimacy is the competitive political election.

      3. Most adults can participate in the electoral process, both as
      voters and as candidates for important political office.

      4. Citizens' votes are secret and not coerced.

      5. Citizens and leaders enjoy basic freedom of speech, press,
      assembly, and organization.

      Powell concluded that 20 nations had continuous democratic regimes
      from 1958 to 1976, Israel being one of them.9

      Finally, Arend Lijphart, in 1984 and 1994, using Dahl's criteria,
      identified 23 nations that had been continuously democratic since the
      immediate post-World II period--Israel being one of them.10

      None of these operational definitions, it will be noted, required
      equality of rights, non-exclusion of minorities, or clear and
      unambiguous borders. All of them also recognized that, in Lijphart's
      words, "democratic regimes are characterized not by perfect
      responsiveness but by a high degree of it."11 Of course, Ghanem,
      Rouhana, and Yiftachel are free to argue that a definition of
      democracy ought to include minority rights, and to so define it
      themselves. Nominalists such as myself have no problem with that so
      long as it is made clear and explicit, and so long as it is applied
      consistently to all states. But the authors need to bear in mind that
      this usage does differ from that common in political science, which
      may force them to remind the reader repeatedly of their higher
      standard (or find another label for it). It also differs
      significantly, it should be added, from what the person in the street
      generally understands by "democracy." One indication of this is a
      recent survey of Palestinians in which 75 percent rated the status of
      democracy and human rights in Israel as either "Good" or "Very Good,"
      against 67 percent for the United States, 55 percent for France, and
      32 percent for the Palestinian Authority.12


      How would other nations rank by the criteria that Ghanem, Rouhana,
      and Yiftachel propose? If we all agree that Israel is to be judged as
      other countries are judged, a comparative perspective becomes
      necessary. Such problems as minority rights in a conflict situation,
      security pressures on civil liberties, the role of religion in
      politics, and overwhelming pressures on available resources can be
      fully evaluated only by comparing the Israeli case to others, similar
      and dissimilar.13 The authors explicitly recognize that
      democratic/non-democratic governments exist on a continuum and that
      there is no perfect democracy, which certainly invites comparison. (I
      also understand informally that they are in fact studying
      other "ethnocracies," though the subset of cases they find comparable-
      -Estonia, Serbia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka--seems very limited.)

      The lack of such comparison in the article at hand, however, tends to
      create the impression that Israel is being measured against an ideal
      standard, making any serious defect grounds for rejecting its
      democratic credentials. It is only fair to ask whether other states
      pass this test. Can any nation with ethnic problems--meaning most
      nations in the world today--pass muster regarding equality and non-
      exclusion of minorities in law and in practice? Surely the United
      States, with its glaring racial inequities, would have to be
      classified as "non-democratic" if this standard is applied

      Ghanem, Rouhana, and Yiftachel do provide grounds for differentiating
      Israel from "truly" democratic states when they stress the degree to
      which Israeli violation of equal rights is anchored in law. While all
      or most states may fall short in practice, the authors stress the
      formal structures that legitimize this discrimination in Israel: the
      Law of Return and other legislation privileging Jews and Jewish
      values, quasi-governmental bodies such as the Jewish Agency or the
      Jewish National Fund that exclude non-Jews, etc.14 It might be argued
      that other democracies enshrine equality and non-exclusion at least
      formally, whatever their shortcomings in practice, but that Israel
      does not do even this.

      Of course, Ghanem, Rouhana, and Yiftachel do not in fact limit their
      critique of Israel to formal structures. They mix law and practice
      together--and they are perfectly correct in doing so, since both must
      be considered. But even putting this aside, there are other problems
      with an exclusive focus on formal structures. In the first place, it
      is not clear that even by this criteria most presumed democracies are
      free of sin. Several years ago, my state legislature decreed that
      henceforth the official language of Indiana was to be English;
      admittedly this had little if any practical impact, but were I a
      native Spanish-speaker I would see this, quite correctly, as an
      insult and even as a discriminatory act. It certainly is not an
      ethnically- and culturally-neutral law. Many states in the modern
      world have adopted policies to "protect" their cultures against alien
      influences; are they beyond the pale?

      But most importantly, actual practice is surely at least as
      important, if not more important, than official structures. Judged by
      its official constitution and laws, the Soviet Union under Joseph
      Stalin was one of the most democratic polities in human history. An
      analysis limited to formal structures would be very uninstructive in
      most cases, like a furniture inventory that says nothing about a
      family that slouches in its chairs and snores in its beds. An
      official apologist for Israel might even conceivably make the
      argument that Israel is simply being less hypocritical than other
      states by matching its formal structure to what it actually does.15

      Looking at both law and practice, any comparison must begin with a
      recognition of the general tenuousness of democracy. Democracy is a
      relatively recent and still far-from-universal human achievement; by
      Lijphart's criteria, there were no democracies at all until the early
      twentieth century (because women did not have the vote), and only 23
      states have been continuously democratic since the immediate post-
      World War II period. All of these are relatively well-developed,
      prosperous nations; all but Israel, India, Costa Rica, and Japan are
      in Western Europe, North America, or the British Commonwealth.16

      Israel often appears in the literature as one of the major case
      studies of democracy in a deeply-divided society. Ethnic and
      religious cleavages clearly make the achievement of democracy more
      difficult; analysts point to a strong correlation between homogeneity
      and political democracy.17 Generally, only a handful of states with
      deep and numerically significant ethnic divisions have maintained
      stable democracies by standard criteria: Switzerland, Belgium,
      Canada, arguably India--and Israel. Thus it is not too surprising
      that one of the weaker aspects of Israeli democracy is minority
      rights. Political scientists consider "consociational" democracy, in
      which power is shared among major groups (Switzerland is the classic
      example), to be more suitable to deeply-divided societies than simply
      majoritarian democracy in which nothing dilutes majority rule. I have
      argued that Israeli politics is basically consociational within the
      Jewish community, but not in dealing with the Jewish-Arab division.18

      Consequently, I would agree with the implicit premise of this debate:
      Jewish-Arab relations within Israel are the acid test of Israeli
      democracy. Posing this in stark "either-or" terms, however, obscures
      the reality that all nation-states must in some fashion balance the
      demands of cultural, ethnic, and historical particularity against
      universalistic principles. Israel faces the difficulty, in David
      Kretzmer's words, of managing the tension between two conceptions of
      nationhood: "As a democratic state Israel must serve the needs of all
      its citizens; as the state of the Jewish people its function is to
      pursue particularistic goals."19 But Israel is hardly the only state
      facing this dilemma.

      Both Smooha and his critics present Israel as a relatively unusual
      case transcending conventional categories, whether as an "ethnic
      democracy" (which Smooha opposes to either majoritarian or
      consociational democracy) or as an "ethnocracy" (which Ghanem,
      Rouhana, and Yiftachel oppose to either democracy or
      authoritarianism). But does Israel really represent a third type in
      either classification? Is the ethnic element in the Israeli polity so
      strong as to constitute a difference in kind, and not just a
      difference in degree?

      Neither of the two essays clearly addresses the critical issue of the
      relationship between an "ethnic" state--democratic or not--and the
      basic concept of a "nation-state" as it has been generally understood
      and used in political theory (Gavison also notes this "ambiguity
      between ethnicity and nationhood").20 In either version, the basic
      concept of an ethnic state comes suggestively close to the classic
      definition of a nation-state. A "nation" is typically defined as "a
      people connected by supposed ties of blood generally manifested by
      community of language, religion, and customs, and by a sense of
      common interest and interrelation."21 This differs little, if at all,
      from most notions of ethnicity. As the idea became prevalent that
      every nation had a right of self-determination, the dominant
      political model in the world became the nation-state: "A state
      organized for the government of a 'nation' whose territory is
      determined by national boundaries, and whose law is determined, at
      least in part, by national customs and expectations."22

      Since ethnic borders seldom correspond perfectly to political
      borders, the "national" majority in any given state constitutes a
      dominant ethnic group with respect to minorities not identified with
      that nationhood, no matter how democratic the procedures. All
      nationalisms have a potential problem with minority rights, as Jewish
      history demonstrates only too well. Furthermore, a hostile majority
      can suppress a minority by democratic as well as non-democratic means
      (as democracy is usually defined). The critical question is how far
      ethnonational identity is intertwined with the very definition of the
      state, and this is a matter of degree.

      In theory liberal democracy is indifferent to distinctions among
      citizens. But no political system exists in a social, cultural,
      linguistic, and historical vacuum; even the most liberal regime is
      shaped by its particular context. A nation-state, formed around a
      central "nation" however defined, bears some particularistic
      features. This imprint will be lighter where the prevailing model of
      nationality is assimilative and where it corresponds to the concept
      of citizenship. In this "New World" model, state forms nation: there
      is a territorial focus, citizenship is extended to those born within
      its borders (jus solis ), and naturalization is not tied to
      ethnicity, culture, or descent. Such a pattern predominates not only
      in New World nations formed by immigration, but also in some states
      with natural borders (e. g., islands), in some older states where
      borders shaped identity (France, Britain), and in newly emerging
      states where "artificial" borders are beginning to shape identity.
      Even here, however, a sense of particularity--Americanness,
      Japanness, Frenchness--remains and may be a strong political factor.

      Clearly this sense is stronger in the "Old World" model where nation
      forms state: there is an ethnic focus, with citizenship distinguished
      from nationality and often extended on grounds of descent (jus
      sanguinis ), while naturalization is more difficult, since it is tied
      to ethnicity, culture, or language. This pattern predominates in some
      areas with well-defined historical nations (Central and Eastern
      Europe, Asia), in newer states formed when the concept of nation-
      state was at its peak (post-World War I), and in some situations
      where the mismatch between ethnic and political borders is especially
      dramatic (Vietnam, Korea, Bangladesh, Yugoslavia).

      As a product of the nation-state idea at its most intense, Israel
      belongs to the "Old World" model and ranks toward the more ethnic end
      of this continuum. It is not, however, in a category by itself; there
      are many other states in which ethnicity is likewise closely
      intertwined with the definition of the state. Many states, for
      example, confer citizenship by descent and/or ethnicity to those who
      can establish an ancestral link.23 The Israeli Law of Return is an
      unusual case of jus sanguinis in that it recognizes an ancestral link
      over two millennia, but other states have similar policies. Germany,
      which generally follows the concept of a community of descent, has as
      part of its 1949 Basic Law a provision granting the right of "return"
      to refugees of German ethnic stock, which led to a massive influx
      of "Germans" from Eastern Europe whose ancestral link was measured in
      centuries.24 The Soviet Union, following World War II, adopted
      similar "laws of return" for persons of Armenian, Russian, Ukrainian,
      or Byelorussian national origin who wished to enter the Soviet Union
      and receive Soviet citizenship. During the decolonization process,
      the imperial powers (Britain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium)
      readmitted "nationals" who were generations removed from the home

      Does the existence of a broader Arab-Israeli conflict make Israel's
      minority issue unique? One of the more curious defenses of de facto
      discrimination is the argument that Israeli Arabs, as an ethnic
      minority linked to an external threat, represent a unique security
      problem. This is not the case: there are Greeks in Turkey and in
      Turkish Cyprus as well as Turks in Greek Cyprus; Hindus in Pakistan
      and Moslems in India; Tamils in Sri Lanka; Arabs in Iran; Albanians
      in Macedonia; Chinese in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia;
      Somalis in Ethiopia; and many potentially hostile tribes with cross-
      border links in Africa. In the past, the presence of ethnic Japanese
      in the United States and Canada, Armenians in Turkey, Germans
      throughout Eastern Europe, and various "suspect" ethnic groups in the
      Soviet Union, has been a source of concern to the governments

      The treatment of these "enemy minorities" has usually been dismal.
      The fate of Armenians during World War I, of Japanese in the United
      States during World War II, and of German minorities during and after
      World War II, testifies to the corrosiveness of wartime suspicions.
      In recent decades, the expulsion of suspect minorities has been
      commonplace, long before civil strife in the former Yugoslavia
      gave "ethnic cleansing" a bad name. It is noteworthy that, among 26
      ethnically-divided states rated as democratic (see below), only the
      Baltic states parallel Israel in having sizeable minorities linked to
      a potentially hostile neighbor. Clearly such links do put minority
      groups in a more complicated and vulnerable position.

      One useful index related to this pattern is the exclusion of ethnic
      minorities from military service; again, Israel is not unique in
      selective conscription. Among democratic nations, Britain did not
      apply the draft to Ireland in World War I or to Northern Ireland in
      World War II, while in Canada the conscription of French Canadians
      was a contentious issue in both conflicts. Elsewhere minorities have
      been excluded from the armed forces, in whole or in part, in Burma,
      Fiji, Guyana, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and a number of
      African states.26 Military service often serves minorities as a path
      to gaining legitimacy and acceptance, as it has with the Druze
      community in Israel.

      Israel's link to ethnicity is not unique. But the Law of Return and
      other explicitly Jewish features do place it among the more ethnic
      nation-states, and thus among the more problematic in terms of ethnic
      minorities. How many states actually have significant ethnic
      minorities, and how do they fare in democratic terms? In The Jewish
      State, I took a tentative stab at this question, admittedly very
      rough and incomplete. In 1995 there were, by this count, 71 states in
      the world with ethnic minorities, defined by language, of over 5
      percent.27 Of these 71 states, 26 (including Israel) were ranked
      as "free" on political rights and civil liberties in the annual
      Freedom House survey of 1994-1995.28

      From Israel's perspective, an important question is how many of these
      26 states practice some form of ethnic power-sharing and how many do
      not, and whether this is related to the size of minorities. Arend
      Lijphart's four basic characteristics of consociational power-sharing
      are: 1) participation in the governing coalition or executive; 2) a
      high degree of group autonomy; 3) proportionality in representation
      and allocation; and, 4) a formal or informal minority veto on matters
      of fundamental importance.29 Addressing only ethnic divisions, 11 of
      the 26 states (not including Israel) met at least three of these four

      There was a clear correlation between power-sharing and the size of
      the minority. Only one of the 12 democratic states with linguistic
      minorities of less than 20 percent (Finland) used power-sharing
      techniques in its ethnic relations, while 10 of the 14 democratic
      states with minorities above 20 percent did so. Clearly accommodation
      of ethnic groups above this threshold, in a democracy, ordinarily
      involves the use of explicit power-sharing techniques that, by their
      nature, dilute the prevailing ethnicity of the state. With an Arab
      minority of about 19 percent, Israel stands near the fulcrum: close
      to the upper limit on the size of minorities that states have
      generally been able to incorporate successfully into functioning
      majoritarian democracies, and beyond which most have found
      consociationalism more applicable. To judge by experience elsewhere,
      it would appear that Israel might be able to integrate this minority
      without wide use of power-sharing techniques, but that such
      techniques are clearly preferable and perhaps even essential.


      Of what, minimally, does the "Jewishness" of the Jewish state
      consist? The Israeli Supreme Court, in dealing with the eligibility
      of parties to participate in elections, has tried to answer this
      question. Acceptance of Israel "as a Jewish state," the court ruled,
      means at least (a) maintenance of a Jewish majority, (2) the right of
      Jews to immigrate, and (3) ties with Jewish communities outside
      Israel.31 None of these features are inherently inconsistent with
      democracy as usually defined, and none of them are unique to Israel.
      The nation-state, based on the principle of the sovereignty for a
      particular ethnonational community, is the prevailing form of
      political organization in international relations. Most states,
      including most democracies, claim some kind of ethnic component in
      their identity, and none exist in a cultural vacuum. A large number
      of states grant citizenship on the basis of ethnic identity of
      descent. Nor is the existence of a dispersion peculiar to the Jewish
      people, save perhaps in duration and extent, and the growth of
      sentiment for "normalizing" Israel-Diaspora relations could lessen
      any remaining differences (by limiting the Law of Return, reducing
      the role of world Jewry in Israel, or even reversing the flow of
      influence as Israel becomes the dominant force in the Jewish world).

      Israel is a democracy by the usual standards in which power-sharing
      techniques have functioned fairly effectively among Jewish groups,
      but from which the Palestinian Arab minority has been excluded. Given
      the depth of the ethnic division, lessons from experience elsewhere,
      and the particular strengths of Israeli politics, the extension of
      power-sharing--consociational democracy--to Palestinians within
      Israel is clearly the preferred option. Israeli Jews wish to remain
      Jewish: that, after all, was the basic idea of Zionism. By the same
      token, Israeli Arabs are a non-assimilating minority with their own
      culture, language, and identity. Democratic governments--and even
      many non-democratic regimes--usually achieve long-term stability in
      such cases by power-sharing based on the explicit recognition of two
      or more ethnic communities.32

      This may require development of an overarching identity, a common
      framework that transcends the division into Jew and Arab, to counter
      the feeling of Israeli Arabs that they do not belong. Though the name
      Israel is decidedly Jewish in origin, Arab citizens have often
      expressed interest in expanding the concept, as a territorial label,
      to encompass non-Jews as well. This would in essence create the
      common civic space that has existed only in theory. Israeli Arab
      novelist Anton Shammas has asked for "a new definition of the
      word 'Israeli,' so that it will include me as well. . . ." Responding
      from a Jewish perspective, A. B. Yehoshua noted that during the First
      Temple period "Jewish religious identity was not at all a necessary
      element of Israeli identity," and projects a gradual cultural
      symbiosis leading to a common Israeli identity.33

      Introduction of power-sharing would be eased by the fact that it
      already works on the Jewish side. Power-sharing among Jewish groups,
      messy and contentious yet effective, already serves as a model of
      independent organization, collective bargaining, and direct action
      within the framework of law. On the municipal level, a "system of
      elite consultations" kept Arab-Jewish peace in Jerusalem over the
      decades, providing another model.34

      Whether conceived as consociationalism or not, specific proposals for
      Jewish-Arab accommodation tend to be similar. Most involve explicit
      recognition of Israeli Arabs as a national minority with rights as a
      group, such as an act of the Knesset affirming that "the Arab
      minority in the State of Israel is an integral part of the Jewish
      State and is entitled to full recognition of its specificity within
      the framework of law."35 Recognition of Arabs as a minority could
      involve making state symbols and practices more inclusive; for
      example, by having "Israeli" holidays that draw in both communities.

      Secondly, following from such recognition would be group autonomy in
      cultural and educational affairs, with the election of a
      representative body for that purpose, and possibly the establishment
      of an Arab-language university. Functional autonomy in these areas
      may be necessary to counter the growth of support for territorial
      autonomy or total separation.

      Finally, inter-ethnic consociationalism will get a tremendous boost
      when Arab parties that accept the framework of a Jewish state are
      brought into government coalitions. Nothing else can provide as clear
      an index of the extension of Israeli power-sharing to the Arab
      community. It is extremely important, as Gavison notes, that
      Palestinians participate directly in the decision-making process
      themselves, rather than having these issues handled as an internal
      debate among Jewish Israelis.

      This is in addition, of course, to a fair allocation of resources and
      equality before the law. Nothing in the "Jewish" nature of the state
      inherently compels discrimination in local government budgets, health
      and welfare services, education, economic opportunities, or treatment
      in the courts. In fact all of the above measures could be implemented
      without renouncing the essential Jewishness of Israel as a nation-
      state. What they involve is some dilution of the relationship between
      ethnicity and statehood, moving Israel more toward the center of the
      spectrum on this dimension. There always remains some sense in which
      an ethnic minority "does not fully belong" in a nation-state with a
      dominant ethnic group, but Israel would become more of a "normal"
      nation-state with "normal" minority problems.

      A majority in both communities--roughly two-thirds, in fact--endorse
      the continuation of Israel as a Jewish state, with full recognition
      of Arab rights as a national minority as a workable solution.36 This
      assumes, of course, the continuation of the process of delinking the
      Israeli Arab situation from developments in the West Bank and Gaza.
      For Arabs within Israel, the sense that the basic conflict was being
      resolved would free them to focus further on their own problems and
      demands. Resolution of broader Arab-Israel issues could conceivably
      intensify their struggle in the sense that they could no longer be
      put off by security arguments. But on the whole, peace and stability
      on the international level should reduce tensions within Israel,
      remove legitimate security issues, help expand civil rights, and make
      Israelis more willing to accept independent Arab organizations and
      Arab control of their own education and internal affairs. In such a
      setting Arabs could also perform military service, or another form of
      national service, as a path to integration and equality.

      Reading in the other direction, this implies that there is no real
      solution to ethnic relations within Israel as long as the larger
      problem impinges. The future of Israeli democracy is inextricably
      linked to continued moderation of the Arab-Israeli conflict and to
      the fate of the larger Arab population in the territories beyond the
      Green Line.


      1. Sammy Smooha, "Ethnic Democracy: Israel as an Archetype," Israel
      Studies, 2 (Fall 1997) 198-241; As'ad Ghanem, Nadim Rouhana, and Oren
      Yiftachel, "Questioning 'Ethnic Democracy': A Response to Sammy
      Smooha," Israel Studies, 3(2) (1998) 253-67; Ruth Gavison, "Jewish
      and Democratic? A Rejoinder to the 'Ethnic Democracy' Debate," Israel
      Studies, 4(1) (1999) 44-72.

      2. Smooha, "Ethnic Democracy," 200.

      3. Ghanem, Rouhana, and Yiftachel, "Questioning 'Ethnic Democracy',"

      4. Ibid., 261. Emphasis in the original.

      5. On de jure discrimination against non-Jews, see David Kretzmer,
      The Legal Status of the Arabs in Israel (Boulder, CO, 1990) 17-22.

      6. Kenneth A. Bollen, "Political Democracy: Conceptual and
      Measurement Traps," in Alex Inkeles (ed), On Measuring Democracy: Its
      Consequences and Concomitants (New Brunswick, NJ, 1991) 9-10.

      7. Dankwart Rustow, A World of Nations: Problems of Political
      Modernization (Washington, DC, 1967) 94, 290.

      8. Robert Dahl, Polyarchy, Participation, and Observation (New Haven,
      CT, 1971) 3, 9, 248.

      9. G. Bingham Powell, Contemporary Democracies: Participation,
      Stability, and Violence (Cambridge, MA, 1982) 3, 5.

      10. Arend Lijphart, Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian and
      Consensus Government in Twenty-One Countries (New Haven, CT, 1984) 2,
      38; Lijphart, "Democracies: Forms, Performance, and Constitutional
      Engineering," European Journal of Political Research, 25 (January,
      1994) 1-17.

      11. Lijphart, Democracies, 2.

      12. Center for Palestine Research and Studies, survey of 7-9 January

      13. The case for a comparative perspective is made convincingly by
      Benyamin Neuberger, "Israel's Democracy and Comparative Politics,"
      Jewish Political Studies Review, 1 (Fall, 1989) 67-75, and in Michael
      N. Barnett (ed), Israel in Comparative Perspective: Challenging the
      Conventional Wisdom (Albany, NY, 1996).

      14. See note 5, above.

      15. Does any country other than Israel tie itself in knots by
      attempting to legislate "permissible" torture, rather than simply
      denying that such practices are officially tolerated?

      16. See note 10, above.

      17. Dahl, Polyarchy, 106-21. See also the study by Pierre Van den
      Berghe, "Pluralism and the Polity: A Theoretical Exploration," in Leo
      Kuper and M. G. Smith (eds), Pluralism in Africa (Berkeley, CA, 1969)

      18. Alan Dowty, The Jewish State: A Century Later (Berkeley, CA,

      19. Kretzmer, Legal Status, 176.

      20. Gavison, "Jewish and Democratic?", 52.

      21. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of Nationalism (New York, 1990) 230.

      22. Roger Scruton, A Dictionary of Political Thought, 2nd edition
      (New York, 1982) 313.

      23. This includes some states that also recognize jus solis; a
      partial list would include Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France,
      Germany, Hungary, Liberia, Poland, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and the
      United Kingdom as well as the Soviet Union and most Soviet successor
      states. Ruth Donner, The Regulation of Nationality in International
      Law, 2nd edition (Irvington-on-Hudson, NY, 1994) 32, 69, 114-19;
      United Nations Legal Department, Laws Concerning Nationalities
      (United Nations ST/LEG/ser.B/4, 1954) 222-4, 386-7. The Israeli Law
      of Return can also be defended as a policy of selective immigration,
      rather than as extension of a particular conception of citizenship;
      since all states practice selective immigration, the question then
      becomes the legitimacy of selection on ethnic grounds, and again
      Israel is not unique in this regard.

      24. Claude Klein, Israel as a Nation-State and the Problem of the
      Arab Minority: In Search of a Status (Tel-Aviv, 1987) 4; United
      Nations Legal Department, Supplement to the Volume on Laws Concerning
      Nationality (United Nations ST/LEG/ser.B/9, 1959) 118; William Rogers
      Brubaker, "Immigration, Citizenship, and the Nation-State in France
      and Germany: A Comparative Historical Analysis," International
      Sociology, 5 (December, 1990) 386-7, 396, 400; Manfred Steger and F.
      Peter Wagner, "Political Asylum, Immigration, and Citizenship in the
      Federal Republic of Germany," New Political Science 24-25 (Spring,
      1993) 65, 67.

      25. United Nations, Laws Concerning Nationalities, 466.

      26. Cynthia Enloe, Ethnic Soldiers: State Security in Divided
      Societies (Athens, GA, 1980) 54-63, 78-82, 136, 182-3, 189-90.

      27. Based on the data in Maps 'n Facts (Broderbund Software, 1994);
      closely-related languages were grouped together and microstates were
      eliminated. For more information see Dowty, The Jewish State, 210-12.

      28. Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and
      Civil Liberties 1994-1995 (New York, 1995) 683-4.

      29. Lijphart, "The Power-Sharing Approach," in Joseph V. Montville
      (ed) Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies (Lexington,
      MA, 1990) 494-5, 503.

      30. The 11 states were Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Canada, Finland,
      Guyana, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Spain, and Switzerland.

      31. E.A. (Election Appeal) 2/88 Ben Shalom v. Chairman of Central
      Elections Committee Piskei Din, 43(2) (1988) 221.

      32. This argument is developed by Oren Yiftachel, "The Concept
      of 'Ethnic Democracy' and its Applicability to the Case of Israel,"
      Ethnic and Racial Studies, 15 (January, 1992) 125-36.

      33. The exchange between Shammas and Yehoshua is in David Grossman's,
      Sleeping on a Wire: Conversations with Palestinians in Israel (New
      York, 1993) 257, 270-1.

      34. Alex Weingrod, "Shadow Games: Ethnic Conflict and Political
      Exchange in Israel," Regional Politics and Policy, 3 (Spring, 1993)

      35. Klein, Israel as a Nation-State, 24; see also Sammy
      Smooha, "Class, Ethnic, and National Cleavages and Democracy in
      Israel," in Ehud Sprinzak and Larry Diamond (eds), Israeli Democracy
      Under Stress (New York, 1993) 325-6.

      36. Sammy Smooha, Ethnic Democracy, 231-2; Hanna Levinsohn, Elihu
      Katz, and Majid Al Haj, Jews and Arabs in Israel: Common Values and
      Reciprocal Images (Jerusalem, 1995) 23.



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