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From Projecting Power

Week 3 Optional Reading[edit]

Questioning "Ethnic Democracy": A Response to Sammy Smooha

    • "Ethnic Democracy" Model: 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.


  • Israel as cannot be used as an "archetype" case of majority-minority relations due to the continuing "Judaization" of the country.
    • "Tyranny of the majority" that structurally prevents the Arabs from mobilizing effectively within this system and excludes them from key positions and resources. Therefore not an "archetype" of a democratic regime.

Flaws in the "ethnic democracy" concept are:

  • civil inequality and lack of minority consent
  • ethnic exclusion
  • problems in the definition of state boundaries

"Ethnic Democracy" and Civil Inequality

  • The Knesset: defines Israel as the state of the Jewish people
    • Israel is a "constitutionally exclusive ethnic state": accepting the state as a jewish state is an illusionary identity at best and a distorted identity at worst
  • Israel suppresses the mobility of the minority by the systematic exclusion of Arabs from key arenas of Israeli society.
  • Israel discriminates against Palestinian-Arab citizens on a daily basis and eliminates every possibility of upward mobility of the Arabs under Israeli rule.
  • Smooh's "ethnic democracy" can be seen as an oxymoron and a better term would be "ethnocracy" defined as a state that is appropriated by one ethnic group and its diasporas and relagates other groups to a secondary type of citizenship.
  • Ghanem concludes that Israel cannot be considered a democracy because of the ethnic discrimination despite having some characteristics of a democracy.