Israel: Challenges to Identity, Democracy, and the State

Israel: Challenges to Identity, Democracy, and the State

Israel: Challenges to Identity, Democracy, and the State

Israel: Challenges to Identity, Democracy, and the State

Synopsis

Often regarded as the only true manifestation of political pluralism in the contemporary Middle East, the state of Israel has dominated the history and politics of the region for over fifty years. Yet despite its position as a regional superpower, Israel continues to struggle with the whole issue of its own identity, the complexities of which have exposed deep clefts throughout Israeli society that threaten to undermine the collective ideal of a viable Jewish polity in the Middle East. This book explores the complex challenges facing Israel, and the extent to which its present state structures and institutions can adapt and accommodate themselves to the diversity of security threats that it now faces. This book will be of interest to those who wish to understand the dynamics that have shaped and continue to shape the state of Israel, and the extent to which these have influenced its search for security in the modern Middle East.

Excerpt

There can be few countries that have inspired the quantity of political coverage that is available regarding modern Israel. For some, Israel has been an inspirational example of state-building, achieving in just half century a level of political and economic development well beyond the grasp of other newly-independent states. For others, it is a far less admirable example of a colonial outpost, constructed at the expense of a dispossessed indigenous population and maintaining an aggressive posture within its regional environment. Either way, the spectrum of writing is tinged at every point with ideological and emotive considerations that have left little room for truly objective analysis. Therein lay the challenge that faced the authors of this volume as we determined how we could complete an original introductory text without resorting to a simple survey of events and institutions.

Rather than either repeating descriptive material found in abundance elsewhere, or advancing any particular critical position, we have tried here to introduce the reader to the main contemporary debates while simultaneously providing the essential information needed to contextualise the discourses. Inevitably, the result has been to focus on the central issues of Israeli democracy and identity. Both may be considered as unique but ultimately flawed constructions. Early efforts at state-building emphasised the notion of consensus while suppressing the tensions that arose from the multiplicity of identities to be found within the new state. the prevailing political culture took little account of ethnic diversity among Jewish citizens or of divisions between religious and secular aspirations. Equally, the desire to create democratic political structures was compromised by the need to accommodate a sizeable non-Jewish population within what was to be a distinctly Jewish state.

For as long as Israel believed itself to be vulnerable to the hostility of its neighbours, the contradictions and dilemmas of identity could be subsumed within a greater need for national unity in the face of adversity. As Israel gained strategic and economic strength, however, and as its polity matured beyond the rhetoric and idealism of the early years, fundamental questions began to surface in the public political arena. the rise of protest groups, the political power exercised by small, special-interest political parties, an

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.