The model of ethnic democracy: Israel as a Jewish and democratic state

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The liberal democratic nation-state is on the decline in the West as a result of globalisation, regionalisation, universation of minority rights, multiculturalism and the rise of ethno-nationalism. While Western countries are decoupling the nation-state and shifting toward multicultural civic democracy, other countries are consolidating an alternative non-civic form of a democratic state that is identified with and subservient to a single ethnic nation. This model, 'ethnic democracy', is presented; its defining features, the circumstances leading to it and the conditions for its stability are elaborated upon; and it is applied to Israel. Contrary to its self-image and international reputation as a Western liberal democracy, Israel is an ethnic democracy in which the Jews appropriate the state and make it a tool for advancing their national security, demography, public space, culture and interests. At the same time, Israel is a democracy that extends various kinds of rights to 1 million Palestinian Arab citizens (16 per cent of the population) who are perceived as a threat. The criticisms against the general model and its applicability to Israel are discussed. The model has already been applied to other countries, but more applications are needed in order to develop it further.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-503
Number of pages29
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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