Menachem Mautner

in Law and the Culture of Israel

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199600564
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729188 | DOI:

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Since the 1990s, Israeli scholars have been conceptualizing Israel's post-hegemonic situation as one of multiculturalism. This chapter discusses the distinctive traits of Israel's multicultural condition. Firstly, it describes the ‘war of cultures’ between secular and religious Jews over the basic principles of the regime, political culture, and law of the state. Secondly, it states that twice in the first decade of the 21st century Israel has found itself on the verge of civil war: in July 2005, in the context of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and in October 2000 when Israeli Arabs mounted a series of violent demonstrations. Thirdly, the chapter looks at ‘the crisis of republicanism’, i.e., the failure of the Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, to cultivate a shared perception of the common good. Fourthly, it discusses how the Israeli state provides massive funding to religious institutions that do not accept the basic principles of the current liberal-democratic regime and openly preach against it. Fifthly, it looks into the divide between the Jewish group and the Arab group over the definition and national character of the state. Finally, it looks at ‘the zero-sum game of the Israeli multicultural condition’: the more Israel accentuates traditional Jewish beliefs and practices in its public culture, the more appealing it would be to Jewish religious Israelis, but the more repugnant to Israel's Arab citizens, and vice versa.

Keywords: Zionism; multiculturalism; republicanism; Arab citizens of Israel; national character

Chapter.  10039 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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