Pretending democracy: Israel, an ethnocratic state
Pretending democracy: Israel, an ethnocratic state

Pretending democracy: Israel, an ethnocratic state

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This powerful collection from an international mix of respected academics, newer voices and political activists explores the place of Israel as a Jewish state in today s modern world a world in which identities, citizenship and human rights are defined in increasingly cosmopolitan and inclusive ways. Offering compelling and comprehensive arguments as to why Israel falls into the category of an ethnocentric state, the contributions to this volume explore four central themes. They reveal the reality behind Israel s founding myths. They document the experiences of some of those who have fallen victim to this ethnic state. Then, they draw comparisons with other ethnic states, notably South Africa, and finally, they point towards the radical hope of achieving a single nation, united, peaceful and just. Unpacking both Jewish and Palestinian nationalism, the nation-state, and ethnic nationalism, this fascinating collection offers new insights into one of the world s most intractable conflicts. It will appeal not only to scholars and teachers, but to anyone interested in the history, politics, anthropology and legal standing of Palestine-Israel.


ISBN: 9789756247457
AUTHOR: Na'eem Jeenah (Editor) (Author), A Abunimah (Author), N Alexander (Author), M du Plessis (Author), S Friedman (Author), D Glaser (Author), R Greenstein (Author), H Grunebaum (Author), A Habib (Author), R Kasrils (Author), S Lavie (Author), F Moughrabi (Author), N Rouhana (Author), S Sand (Author), A Shlaim (Author), A Tamimi (Author), S Vally (Author), O Yiftachel (Author), A Zaaiman (Author), Na'eem Jeenah (Editor)
BINDING: Paperback
PAGES: 416 pages
DIMENSIONS: 6 x 0.85 x 9 inches
PUBLISHER: Afro-Middle East Centre


Na'eem Jeenah is the Executive Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre. He has been conducting research on the Middle East for more than a decade. Contributors to the volume: Ali Abunimah, Neville Alexander, Max du Plessis, Steven Friedman, Daryl Glaser, Ran Greenstein, Heidi Grunebaum, Adam Habib, Na eem Jeenah, Ronnie Kasrils, Smadar Lavie, Fouad Moughrabi, Nadim N Rouhana, Shlomo Sand, Avi Shlaim, Azzam Tamimi, Salim Vally, Oren Yiftachel, Andre Zaaiman


Pretending Democracy: Israel, an Ethnocratic State is a collection of essays by Israeli, Palestinian and South African intellectuals dissecting the nature of the Israeli state and proposing how to get beyond the ethnic nationalism that characterizes Zionism and Israeli apartheid . The book follows a conference held in Pretoria in 2010 by the Afro-Middle East Centre, a South African think-tank. The argument that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic, especially when 20 percent of its citizens are Palestinian, is one that is finally beginning to resonate among US intellectuals who have long given the ideology of political Zionism a free pass because of the Holocaust. Most recently, Joseph Levine, a philosophy professor at the University of Massachusetts, wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times challenging the idea that a state can belong to one ethnic group without, as Levine put it, violating the core democratic principle of equality ( Om questioning the Jewish state , 9 March 2013). A majority of Americans have soundly rejected its corollary a white, Christian and democratic country as a result of the struggles waged by blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and other people of color against a long-standing system of white supremacy. So if not a democracy, then what kind of state is Israel? In this volume, several authors find common ground, though each has a slightly different emphasis. Oren Yiftachel writes that Israel is more properly defined as an ethnocracy because the organizing principle around which the state is structured is based on what ethnic group one belongs to, rather than on citizenship. Nakba Denial In another essay, Nadim N. Rouhana expands on the notion of ethnocracy. Rouhana notes that the Israeli state links equality of opportunity a concept central to a liberal democracy to ethnic affiliation, rather than citizenship. Yiftachel and others argue that the Nakba the 1948 ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Palestinians from lands in present-day Israel is the cornerstone of Israeli ethnocracy. And Rouhana suggests that the only way to end the conflict is to attack and expose Israel s denial of the Nakba. South African political scientist Daryl Glaser calls Israel a settler-minority democracy (SMiD). A SMiD, he writes, is a democracy for the European or European-sponsored settlers who established colonies in circumstances where they were outnumbered by the indigenous people but still managed to dominate them. Glaser argues that Israel was at one point a settler-majority democracy from 1948 to 1967 but managed to once again become a SMiD by occupying the West Bank and Gaza . It is therefore a democracy for some and a dictatorship for others, its ethnic oligarchy beset by permanent demographic panic. Ronnie Kasrils believes that Israel fits the definition of colonialism of a special type. For Kasrils, it is essential to grasp the colonial factor to understand that the Palestinian struggle is a national liberation struggle ... against a colonial-settler project that claims democratic rights exclusively for its own group. It is the settlers racist, colonialist agenda that is the fundamental cause of the conflict, he writes, as was the case in South Africa. Valuable ideas Pretending Democracy goes beyond simply examining the nature of the Israeli state. It offers valuable ideas for ending Israeli apartheid and the denial of Palestinians right to self-determination. Read Read the rest of this review at electronic intifada --electronic intifada

Public space in the state of Israel remains a contentious issue. The purported Jewish and democratic nature of the state a political bargaining tool in order to obtain the coveted legitimacy from other significant countries, entrenches the reality of a settler and ethnocentric state. Pretending democracy: Israel, an ethnocratic State (AMEC, 2012), a collection of academic papers examining the reality and consequences for Palestinians, exposes an ethnocracy which has sought to promote an illusion of democracy to conceal a 'selective openness' which facilitates marginalisation of the indigenous population. The book is an invaluable treatise which delves into the importance of recognising Palestinian legitimacy in order to achieve 'political and constitutional claim'. Deriving both similarities and contrasts from the apartheid in South Africa, it is observed that South Africa was more explicit in implementing apartheid. Israel continues to avail itself of democracy rhetoric in an attempt to distance itself from unofficial apartheid policy, despite ample proof with regard to dispossession, massacres, settler violence and deprivation of socio-economic rights. An overview of Israel's 1992 Basic Law ascertains Israel's ethnocratic nature, containing legal provisions allegedly safeguarding Israeli citizens, while enshrining the state's values within the banner of 'Jewish and democratic', thus promoting a Jewish cultural hegemony. Through a comprehensive discussion of various complications, including Israel's distinction between citizenship and nationality, incongruous borders, the subjugation of ethnic groups, alleged biological historiography and the legitimate right to oppress, the authors reveal the foundations of a state based upon selective fragments of history which are manipulated in accordance with Zionist ideology. Shlomo Sand's contribution discusses how Jewish acknowledgment of subjugation to greater powers shifted the dynamics of group solidarity to ethnic dominance. "Zionism from its inception was an ethnocentric nationalist movement that firmly enclosed the historical people of its own invention, and banned any voluntary civil entry into the nation its platform began to design." Through this chronological fragmentation, the absence of nationhood promoted the conquest of the 'imaginary homeland', marked by the Palestinian Nakba and the incessant onslaught of violations. Jewish self-determination could only be supported by European colonialism, hence the settler culture of European Jews in Palestinian territory. As Ze'ev Jabotisnsky had asserted, Israel's expansionist programme was based upon 'a permanent alliance with European colonies against all the Arabs in the Mediterranean'. The use of force became a necessary strategy to ensure a weakened resolve of Palestinian, also portraying Israel's condescending attitude towards colonialism an apartheid, which it deems a 'legitimate right'. Oren Yiftachel's paper discusses the manner in which Israel, together with globalisation, have exacerbated inequality and the contradictions within Zionist discourse in stressing the need for 'peace' and agreements while implementing measures which further Israel's expansion into Palestinian territory, thus justifying the occupying power's rhetoric of security concerns. The geographical fragmentation of Palestinian villages, the deprivation of rights for Bedouin in the Negev, and the insistence of invoking militant rhetoric as proof of anti-Semitism are described as 'calculated changes' by Yiftachel, who elaborates further upon Israel's self-portrayal of democracy as a means to legitimise ethnocracy. Read the rest of this review at Middle East Monitor --Middle East Monitor (MEMO)

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