Multiculturalism in deeply divided societies: The Israeli case

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With the start of the new millennium, internal conflicts are becoming more and more salient. One of the main sources for such conflicts are social and economic inequalities and in particular the increasing disparities between majority and minority groups. Even societies that had been successful in dealing with external conflicts and making a transition from war to peace have realized that this does not automatically resolve internal conflicts. At the contrary, the resolution of external conflicts may even sharpen internal ones. Therefore, pluralistic societies are increasingly facing the question of how to deal with internal issues of social inequalities and cultural diversity and, at the same time, to build a shared civility among its different national, ethnic, religious and social groups. These challenges have brought to the rise of multiculturalism as both an indicator for social structure and as a conception. This paper deals with the state of multiculturalism in Israel in the context of Jewish-Arab relations. First we present a theoretical framework about the different approaches towards multiculturalism and the conditions for introducing multicultural education. The central part of this paper concentrates on the case of Israel. In this part we present the social structure of Israeli society and the characteristics of the official culture. We mainly focus on the Jewish-Arab division in Israel as the most salient division. Jewish-Arab relations are analyzed in connection with the broader socio-political context within Israeli society, on the one hand, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, on the other. The impact of these factors on the education system are examined over time, as reflected in school curriculum in history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-183
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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