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Am Johal: Israel's Democratic Facade

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    Western Media and Israel s Democratic Facade by Am Johal http://www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm?itemID=12178§ionID=107 Despite Israel s identity and
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2007
      Western Media and Israel's Democratic Facade
      by Am Johal

      Despite Israel's identity and international reputation as a Western
      liberal democracy, Israeli academics such as Sammy Smooha have
      identified Israel as an `ethnic democracy.'

      This implies serious consequences which not only have the potential to
      deviate from the traditional definition of a liberal democratic
      nation-state, but has implications on how international law is
      interpreted and applied. In fact, the very premise of defining the
      nation-state as an `ethnic democracy' imply a differentiation of
      rights which are ethnically based in favour of the majority.

      The definition or the term may reflect reality, but in its very
      premise as an `ethnic democracy' may violate the basis by which
      traditional views of democracy, international law and human rights are

      In the case of Israel which is widely viewed as being in the Western
      democratic tradition by western media, it is defined in academic terms
      as an ethnic democracy by some and an ethnocracy by others. Laws and
      policies designed to meet these demands invariably collide with the
      development and systemitization of human rights in the international
      context. Within this definition of ethnically based political
      systems, most of the Middle East has a well documented history of
      compromising human rights domestically based on international laws and

      Smooha identifies liberal democracy and consociational democracy as
      the main variants of the democratic form. Liberal democracy is the
      prevalent form of democracy and is firmly established in places such
      as the United States and France. Consociational democracy is
      prevalent in places such as Switzerland and Belgium where large ethnic
      groups are brought in to the democratic system through power sharing
      and various systems of proportionality. Nation-states such as Canada
      utilize a form of multicultural democracy which combine features of
      these two types of democracy.

      Smooha makes the argument that states which have a record of ethnic
      nationalism are practicing a diminished form of democracy based on
      favoring the ethnic majority of the nation-state. He cites countries
      in Central and Eastern Europe such as Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia,
      Northern Ireland and Israel as examples where "these and other states
      are internationally accepted as democracies despite their digression
      from the Western tenets of centrality of citizenship, equal rights and
      civic nation."

      Smooha characterizes some of its features in the following way:

      "The ethnic nation, not the citizenry, shapes the symbols, laws and
      policies of the state for the benefit of the majority. This ideology
      makes a crucial distinction between members and non-members of the
      ethnic nation. Members of the ethnic nation may be divided into
      persons living in the homeland and persons living in the diaspora.
      Both are preferred to non-members who are `others', outsiders, less
      desirable persons, who cannot be full members of the society and the
      state. Citizenship is separate from the nationality, neither a
      necessary nor a sufficient condition for membership in the ethnic
      nation, unlike the situation in the West where the idea of a civic
      nation is prevalent."

      Ethnic democracy may meet the minimal and procedural definitions of
      democracy but by taking the ethnic nation, rather than the citizenry,
      as the cornerstone of the state, "the state privileges the majority
      and strives to advance its interests rather than to serve all its
      citizens equally. The minority cannot fully identify itself with the
      state, cannot be completely equal to the majority and cannot confer
      full legitimacy on the state."

      Smooha identifies four factors conducive to the emergence of ethnic

      1. The primary condition is the pre-existence of ethnic nationalism
      and the ethnic nation which influences the form of governance. 2. The
      existence of a threat to the ethnic nation which requires the
      mobilization of the nation-state to cope with internal and external
      threats. 3. The majority's commitment to democracy, without which a
      non-democracy would emerge. 4. When the minority is either small or
      disorganized, the majority can opt for a workable ethnic democracy
      without renouncing its domination. Facing a very large or too strong
      a minority, the majority may choose ethnic non-democracy because it is
      too difficult to maintain democracy.

      Conditions of stability for ethnic democracies include a clear
      numerical and political majority for the main ethnic grouping in the
      country. In Israel, where the Arab Israeli minority and Palestinian
      populations are growing at a faster rate than the Israeli Jewish
      majority, the public sphere includes debates around what is defined as
      a potential `demographic threat.'

      Smooha defines a second condition as the majority's sense of threat.
      A third feature includes non-interference in an `external homeland.'
      A fourth feature is `non-intervention against, or even support for,
      ethnic democracy by the international community as an important aspect
      of maintaining stability.'

      In traditional liberal democracy, Rousseau made a distinction between
      the general will and the will of the majority. Societies based on
      justice, equality and freedom may need to rely on the general will to
      a greater degree than the will of the majority. Smooha acknowledges that:

      "...Ethnic democracy is conceptually inadequate because it can be seen
      as a contradiction in terms, an impossible unity of equality and
      inequality. It is a confusing and dismissable overstretching of the
      concept of democracy because a regime that by definition denies full
      equality of rights cannot and should not be construed as
      democratic…according to this criticism, ethnic democracy and
      Herrenvolk democracy are similarly non-democratic because they share
      hegemonic control and tyrrany of the majority."

      Smooha makes the argument that ethnic states maintain a democratic
      façade and "it is retained only as long as the majority is able to
      exercise its hegemony."

      Benjamin Neuberger argues that ethnic democracy does not meet the
      minimum requirements of democracy and that the system and process is
      more akin to a semi-democracy. In his view, ethnic democracy does not
      meet the basic requirements of the procedural minimum definition of
      democracy which include the premise that all citizens enjoy full
      rights and secondly, that the "equality of rights they enjoy does not
      stand in contradiction to any hierarchical principle."

      Smooha, in addressing the claim that ethnic democracies may serve to
      freeze internal conflicts, argues that such systems can moderate deep
      ethnic cleavages. He argues that, "as a mode of conflict regulation,
      it is superior to genocide, ethnic cleansing, involuntary population
      transfer and systems of non-democratic domination."

      Smooha however does not address the question of whether the system is
      morally just or whether the application of unequal rights can actually
      lead to long-term stability. There is a legitimate argument that
      governance on this model could perpetuate existing cleavages which
      could continue to exacerbate social ruptures and inequality.

      Smooha cites Arab Israeli Member of the Knesset and critical scholar
      Azmi Bishara in presenting the view that:

      "ethnic democracy is objectionable because it misrepresents a
      non-democracy as a democracy, thereby legitimating the illegitimate.
      It is maintained that ethnic democracy wrongfully serves as a
      normative model for democratising states and as a tool for justifying
      injustices perpetrated by non-democratic states and majorities."

      Israeli jurist Yehuda Cohen makes the argument that since democracy is
      secondary to the existence of the ethnic nation, ethnic democracies
      can work and even allow for some collective and individual equal
      rights for minorities to the extent that the application of those
      rights do not impinge on the national character of the state.

      In this sense, the academic terminology and its presentation as a
      normative model does in practice legitimize the practises to an extent
      even if it reflects the working reality of the system.

      Ruth Gavison has argued that there are some elements of allowing for
      equal rights of minorities which are irreconcilable with principles of
      equality and justice.

      Smooha identifies four normative ways of dealing with the nature of
      ethnic democracy. He identifies defining ethnic democracy as a form
      of lesser evil because it allows for maximum freedom and openness
      while maintaining stability and the interests of the majority as "a
      mode of conflict management that is superior to violence, domination
      and other non-democratic modes."

      Smooha also identifies ethnic democracy as a pragmatic response to the
      temporary necessity of maintaining order within a conflict
      environment. In the extension of this argument, relatively new states
      which face existential threats are justified in setting up structures
      to harness the state apparatus for the purposes of ensuring national
      survival and enacting `a set of policies commensurate with
      `affirmative action' in favour of the ethnic majority.'

      This is also a flaw in his argument in that ethnic democracy has
      become the long-term reality of the state and serves to exacerbate
      tensions within the country and outside of it. Whether maintaining
      that status is more or less dangerous than a more advanced form of
      democracy is difficult to empirically verify. However, it could be
      effectively argued that as a process of state building, maintaining
      order in a conflict environment and implementing a political agenda,
      it is remarkably effective if international law and other human rights
      obligations are not part of the evaluation.

      Smooha makes the additional argument that ethnic democracy is
      compatible with universal minority rights including UN treaties such
      as International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
      Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political
      Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
      Rights. There are also European Council agreements such as the
      European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework
      Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. This is a
      questionable argument since many civil society organizations and
      international bodies regularly cite the violations of these covenants
      in the enactment of discriminatory legislation practiced by Israel.

      Additionally, a more advanced system may merely create a new model of
      codifying inequality in order to meet the basic requirements of
      maintaining an ethnic state.

      The other argument for the justification of ethnic democracy as a mode
      of governance despite the disequilibrium inherent in its supposition
      is that liberal democracy also has structural flaws which support
      elite formations and corporatist interests. As every democracy is
      flawed by its structural bias, so to is an ethnic democracy. This
      relativity in interpreting the status and legitimacy of a democracy
      must be weighed against the normative values and standards of the
      existing international system.

      Another element in ensuring a Jewish majority in the state is the Law
      of Return which guarantees Jews the right to return to and settle in
      Israel. The law also works to deny the right of 3.5 million
      Palestinian refugees to return to the country and remains a
      contentious issue. At the Camp David Accords and many other peace
      processes, there are some allowances for some return but the issue is
      addressed through financial compensation. Additionally, restrictions
      on citizenship through marriage for the spouses of Arab Israelis who
      are Palestinian are still a matter for debate at a public level.

      Israel's use of Hebrew as the official and dominant language is also
      an important aspect of its nationhood and identity. Although Arabic
      is also an official language of Israel, it is not dominant and is
      limited in its public expression in public and private institutions
      and is the subject of cases of discrimination brought before the courts.

      Additionally 93% of the land in Israel is controlled by the state or
      Jewish public bodies. Public institutions and planning authorities
      engage in discriminatory planning practises and policies as part of
      the process of land usage according to civil society organizations.
      There are policies in place which displace Arab Israeli citizens from
      land in order to support Jewish settlement policies.

      Smooha cites three perceived threats to Israel which form part of the
      basis of the argument that states under duress will tend to organize
      around a political form and system which benefits the dominant group
      that seeks to maintain its nationalist aims and ambitions.

      The first threat is the perceived threat in the region for Israel.
      Since Israel is much more interested in integration with the West and
      although it has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan,
      neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and other
      Muslim states continue to raise issues with its existence in the region.

      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted a racist international
      conference about the denial of the Holocaust in December 2006.

      Secondly, Arab citizens of Israel are perceived as an internal threat
      due to their growth as a population and their increasing political
      sophistication. They are accused of being disloyal and some
      politicians in Israel regularly refer to the "demographic threat" in
      Israel and openly advocate forms of ethnic transfer.

      Smooha also cites anti-semitism and other forces which work to
      undermine Jewish culture and tradition in the diaspora as a threat to
      the state.

      The very premise of ethnic democracy belies an acknowledgement of the
      status quo policy framework which openly discriminates on the basis of
      ethnicity. This may be accurate in explaining how things are, how
      they have developed and the ideas behind policies that may arise in
      the future to protect to the greatest extent possible, the Jewish and
      democratic nature of the state. Historic injustices to the Jewish
      community also help explain some of the official forms of historical
      justification for the political system which has been created in
      Israel due to the trauma inherent in Israeli collective identity.

      Independent critical journalist Jonathan Cook from Britain argues in
      his latest book, The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State,
      that issues of demography are at the root of many of Israel's
      contentious public policies. Former US President Jimmy Carter argues
      in his latest book that the Israelis and Palestinians must pursue
      peace or live with an ethnically divided state.

      Though Zionism emerged from Eastern European roots in response to the
      anti-semitism which existed there, it was also firmly attached to
      Western values and forms of governance from its inception. Its
      largest supporters were influenced by both social democratic and
      liberal democratic values. After the establishment of the state,
      Israel has consistently stayed in the Western tradition, rather than
      join the non-aligned movement with other social democratic countries
      at the time such as India and Yugoslavia.

      Smooha has argued that the willingness of Israeli governments to
      withdraw from occupied territories has largely been due to the
      demographic debate which exists within the borders of Israel. By
      supporting an independent Palestinian state in theory and, by setting
      up an ethnic democracy within its own borders, Israel has continued
      with its policies of attempting to maintain both a Jewish and
      democratic state at least in its facade. This has, in turn, affected
      the basic human rights of Palestinians and Arab Israelis.

      Daniel Levy cites two significant challenges in the short-term:

      1) While the world waits for the next pronouncements of Israel's
      cabinet, new, often devastating, realities are being shaped by
      bulldozers, builders, and bureaucrats. The construction of the
      separation barrier, deep inside Palestinian territory in some places,
      creates a physical as well as mental obstacle for those who believe in
      and advocate a realistic two-state solution…these facts raise the
      possibility of a cumulative undermining of the viable two-state
      solution through settlement expansion that on some day passes the
      point of no return…either the magic formula for finally freezing
      settlement construction must be discovered, or the focus needs to be
      undone for a peaceful solution to prevail. 2) The greatest threat to
      the two state solution may in fact be the tenuous position of the
      Palestinian center and its prospective replacement by a leadership
      that abandons the two-state paradigm (eg. Hamas)…Abbas and his group
      symbolize reform, democratization, and non-violence, all wrapped up in
      the most evocative image in the Muslim world today – the Palestinian
      cause. If this trend loses out to the forces of violence and
      extremism in Palestine, then the regional and global spill-over effect
      could be catastrophic.

      Edward Said in his collection of essays and articles, The End of the
      Peace Process, remained critical of the official peace process and
      argued that the Oslo Accords of 1993 simply created a legal structure
      around the administration of occupied lands without setting up a
      permanent two-state solution. In his view, the Oslo Accords merely
      legitimized the Israeli occupation and de facto control over occupied
      lands. Said remained a supporter of a future one-state solution.

      The Israeli policies and governing philosophy which contribute to this
      approach is partially premised on some basic assumptions. First, that
      the international community will not intervene on behalf of the Arab
      Israeli population. Secondly, that the regional Arab countries will
      not intervene on behalf of Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the
      occupied territories.

      The Israeli state's distortions from the liberal democratic practices
      become the concern of civil society when normative models deviate from
      international standards and obligations related to human and
      collective rights. Critiquing Israel on this basis is an effective
      methodology to build domestic and international support for
      institutional reform as a framework of engagement and in building
      broad domestic support for reform.

      Civil society organizations have also been important in bringing
      issues of equal rights related to the Arab Israeli population to the
      United Nations and other regional bodies such as the European
      Parliament. Human rights reports have also begun to more thoroughly
      document policies which would be seen as discriminatory and are
      identified as distortions from the traditional liberal forms of
      democracy which Israel attempts to model.

      Smooha makes the argument that Zionism began as an ethnic nationalist
      movement in Eastern Europe and has utilized a Western form of
      democracy to meet its ideological and philosophical ends effectively
      to a large degree. Its support from Western interests in particular
      has been instrumental in its development and continued ability to
      manage complex regional tensions. The US, the European Union and
      individual European nation-states have been crucial to its very
      survival in terms of being able to buttress differing Arab nationalist
      movements in the region who have taken on the Palestinian cause or had
      diplomatic disagreements with Arab neighbours.

      Israeli academic Illan Pappe has challenged extensively the founding
      narratives of the Israeli state and has written extensively of the
      removal of Palestinian Arabs in what is now Israel. He has regularly
      debated Israeli historian Benny Morris on the accuracy of documented
      Israeli history. Morris has recently argued that ethnic transfer of
      Arab Israelis should be viewed as a realistic public policy option if
      Israel is to maintain its Jewish and democratic character.

      According to Smooha:

      "Ethnic democracy is located somewhere in the democratic section of
      the democracy-non-democracy continuum. Ethnic democracy is a system
      which combines the extension of civil and political rights to
      individuals and some collective rights to minorities, with
      institutionalization of majority control over the state. Driven by
      ethnic nationalism, the state is identified with a "core ethnic
      nation," not with its citizens…at the same time, the minorities are
      allowed to conduct a democratic and peaceful struggle that yields
      incremental improvement in their status."

      The level of coercion which such an approach implies clearly has a
      traumatizing effect on the polity which is the subject of differential
      treatment. The development of a political agenda, the sophistication
      of methods to win legislative advances and other aspects of social
      practises apply within this context.

      Smooha goes on to argue:

      "Israel proper qualifies as a political democracy on many
      counts…Notwithstanding concerns that Israeli democracy is an
      "overburdened polity"…it has thus far functioned quite
      well…Simultaneously, Israel is a special case of an ethnic state. It
      defines itself as a state of and for Jews, that is, the homeland of
      the Jews only…the state extends preferential treatment to Jews who
      wish to preserve the embedded Jewishness and Zionism of the state."

      In a critique of Smooha's model of ethnic democracy and the way it is
      applied to Israel, As'ad Ghanem, Nadim Rouhana and Oren Yiftael have
      attempted to:

      "extend ... previous questioning of the model's viability,
      sustainability, and content, and to question its empirical and
      theoretical claims and coherence. We acknowledge, of course, that
      important democratic features are practiced in Israel, but make a
      distinction between these features and a democratic state structure,
      which is lacking in the current regime."

      This criticism of Smooha's model of ethnic democracy by Ghanem,
      Rouhana and Yiftael is presented on the following basis:

      1. Though Smooha makes a distinction between individual and collective
      rights, the limitation imposed on collective rights also entails the
      violation of individual rights and, hence, the breaching of a
      fundamental democratic principle of individual civil equality. 2. That
      Israel cannot be considered as an archetypal example of an ethnic
      democracy, nor can the process of Judaization be historically isolated
      out of context since it is still in process. They argue that this
      merely legitimates the "tyranny of the majority" basis of ethnic
      democracy. 3. The rupturing of state boundaries through the
      development of settlements and by the political engagement of the
      diaspora community. The traditional definition of `demos' is
      distorted within a conflicted state environment. Structural ethnic
      expansion and undefined borders also add to this critique. These
      issues include "civil inequality and lack of minority consent, ethnic
      exclusion, and problems in the definition of state boundaries.
      Together, these deficiencies cast doubt on the model's empirical and
      theoretical value." 101

      On this basis, the three argue that basic principles of equality and
      consent are absent in the Israeli state system.

      They also make a more problematic assertion which Smooha has been
      unable to refute adequately:

      As an ethnic state, Israel makes equality between Arab and Jew
      impossible in practise or in theory. It is membership in the Jewish
      people, not citizenship in Israel, that is the chief criterion for the
      claim of state ownership. The state system is predicated on a
      constitutional arrangement that contradicts the conditions of equal
      citizenship and, therefore, democracy.

      The three make the argument that assimilation in to Israel for Arab
      Israelis will be difficult as long as the Israeli Jewish citizens
      receive preferential treatment. They cite Human Needs Theory in
      explaining that equality and identity are basic needs that are not
      subject to negotiation. On this basis, they argue that legally
      sanctioned ethnic inequality is a major source of ethnic tension and
      conflict in the region. Smooha refutes this point by arguing that the
      regional equation forces Israel to follow these policies.

      Additionally, mainstream political debate includes right wing elected
      politicians openly calling for the ethnic transfer of Arab Israeli
      citizens, such as Member of the Knesset, Avigdor Lieberman. The
      Mossawa Center, an NGO representing Arab citizens of Israel, reacted
      critically to the announcement of Lieberman as Deputy Prime Minister
      in the following way in a press release:

      "The Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for the Arab Citizens of
      Israel, calls upon the international community to act against Prime
      Minister Olmert's coalition agreement with Yesrael Beitino and Avigdor
      Lieberman's appointment as minister for strategic threats, deputy
      prime minister and member of the security cabinet. Lieberman's
      racist propaganda and platform to transfer the Arab community of
      Israel are blatant violations of human rights, contradicting not only
      the international agreements signed by Israel, but the democratic
      values of the state as well. With such influential political
      positions, Lieberman would have a frightening amount of power to make
      his outright racist position a reality at the price of the human
      rights of the Arab minority in Israel."

      Underlying these polemic and existential debates about political
      systems is the process of time utilized by state authorities to redraw
      boundaries and implement policies in the short and long term which
      alter the basis of the conflict such as the construction of the
      Separation Wall, the expansion of settlements and other policies which
      place at their center the Judaization of the land where Arab Israelis
      and Palestinians are not equal partners.

      Since September 11th, the expansion of using security concerns as the
      primary means of pushing forward policies which further legitimize
      unequal rights is of very real concern to Palestinians and Arab
      Israelis. Additionally, policies of unilateralism continue to serve
      Israeli interests in the broader perspective. How the European Union
      engages in these matters of human rights remains an important question.

      Defenders of Israel argue that many social and political movements in
      the Arab world have the destruction of Israel as their prime
      organizing principle. As such, as a state which faces existential
      threats within a conflict environment, Israel is justified in pursuing
      policies in the name of strategic security and defense. If the
      threats did not exist, Israel would not need to follow such hawkish
      policies according to this view.

      Furthermore, by placing normative democratic principles on to a
      long-term conflict environment, they argue that such critiques are
      lacking full contextualization and do not adequately acknowledge the
      extent of the threats which Israel faces.

      In responding to Smooha, the three state an important point:

      "As shown in a wide body of literature, there is little theoretical
      rationale, moral justification, historical evidence, or political
      foresight in expecting that a national minority should accept unequal
      status within its own homeland, especially when its minority status
      within the homeland is based on its recent collective dispossession.
      Considering equality as a continuum on which the constitutional
      position of the subordinate group can only improve but never reach
      full equality, as the model of "ethnic democracy" would have it, is an
      innovation that can become a recipe for protracted social conflict.
      Inequality becomes a central issue of mobilization and political
      consciousness to the subordinate group that can be maintained only if
      the dominant group is willing to use force as its ultimate means of
      control, thus violating one of the essential ingredients of democratic

      They also argue that improvements in socio-economic conditions of the
      minority may in fact continue to lead to destabilization due to
      increased awareness, capacity and ability to participate in public

      On this basis, they make a clear point which coincides with Hungarian
      dissident Istvan Bibo's theme of fear utilized in undemocratic states
      as a form of coercion:

      "Thus the viability of the model is, by definition, based on control
      and not on consent – a clear violation of democratic practice."

      Other writers and thinkers, such as Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing
      Consent, would argue that even Western liberal democracies have deep
      structural flaws and are subject to distortions by elite formations.

      Marx, Gramsci, Althusser and Foucault make similar critiques from
      different perspectives. Even post-structuralist thinkers like Juergen
      Habermas view the understanding of distortions in state systems as
      fundamental to understanding power arrangements. However, the
      baseline of appropriate assessment standards either philosophically,
      theoretically or built in to international conventions has not been
      thoroughly established at the practical or institutional level.

      In criticizing Smooha, the three cite Alex de Toqueville's warning
      against the "dangers associated with constitutional tyrrany of the

      Additionally, it is their contention that it breaches the fundamental
      principle of the protection of minorities. Arab Israeli citizens feel
      alienated by the primarily Jewish symbols of the state including the
      flag and the national anthem.

      They argue that legislation which reinforces the Arab's inferior
      status continues to be ratified at the political and legal level
      including land development policies, housing evictions and demolitions
      and restrictions on citizenship through marriage.

      They also argue that the potential for upward mobility and the
      establishment of rights for the Arab minority as part of an historic
      evolution has limits which are irreconcilable with basic principles of
      equal rights. Furthermore, settlers in occupied territories receive
      at least 18 Knesset seats which is more than the number of elected
      Arab Members of the Knesset. The Palestinian diaspora also lacks the
      political lobbying power and acumen of the Jewish diaspora in Western

      Based on the current legal framework of Arab Israeli citizens,
      Yiftachtel makes the argument that Israel should be correctly
      identified as an ethnocracy since it is:

      " a more appropriate analytical term to account for the structure of
      the Israeli political system, which is neither democratic nor
      authoritarian. In ethnocratic regimes, the state is appropriated by
      one ethnic group and its diasporas, relegating other groups to a
      secondary type of citizenship."

      In responding to Smooha's argument in support of calling Israel an
      ethnic democracy, they also make the argument that the political
      agenda of the Orthodox Jewry is inherently undemocratic and reliant on
      religious foundations which are fundamentalist in basis. Due to the
      political clout of the Orthodox Jewish community, they are able to
      build a political agenda which can be perceived as undemocratic to the
      Arab minority due to its impact on the minority population. This
      means that classical democratic themes such as demos and ethnos are
      distorted by the actual system, process and outcomes of government

      That the Western media continues to support the idea that Israel is
      the only democracy in the Middle East is built on a highly
      questionable framework. There is a human rights problem in the entire
      Middle East, including inside Israel.



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