At the outset of the last century, Israeli culture was “imagined” as an ethno-national culture. That is, it assumed common premordial roots that allegedly bind all Jewish communities every where in the world and throughout history. As Ben-Zion Dinur, a prominent and leading Zionist historiographer, had argued, “Jewish history is unified by an homogenous unity that encompasses all eras and all places, reflecting upon each other”. Accordingly, concentrated efforts had been directed to produce the symbolic repertoire embodying it. The purpose was to employ this repertoire in cultivating a culturally homogenized collective that blurs the boundaries between state and society, people and land and Jewishness and Israeliness. Given this strict ethno-national grammar, there emerged a mutation in Israeli national identity manifested through a series of negations: negation of Diaspora, negation of Arabic culture and negation of religion. That is, while officially and even vehemently negating these elements, Israeli national identity derives – one way or another – some of its basic symbols and values from them.
The early 1990 signify the beginning of a pronounced change in this cultural and political reality. It seems that there emerged a combination of centrifugal forces that present a real challenge to the hegemonic national culture. The role models of Israeli national culture become ever diversified and the possibility to break loose from the firm grip of this culture is rendered tangibly real. Parallel to this change, it was often possible to hear demands made by many sectors of Israeli society that it should incorporate multicultural principles in its “basic structure”. This reality presents, then, what can be described as “the multicultural condition”. That is, it is a reality in which difference and diversity receive growing legitimacy.
This vigorously emerging reality raises several questions. How should
the demand that
The purpose of this paper is to examine possible answers to these questions. The paper divides into two main sections. In the first section I will embark on a short theoretical discussion concerning the relationship between claims of recognition and claims of distribution. One of the main arguments of the paper is that one cannot separate claims of recognition from claims of distribution. These claims are inextricable. This argument, however, will be developed against the examination of the main schisms characterizing Israeli society: Israeli Palestinians and Israeli Jews, Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews, religious and non-religious, veteran and immigrants and gender relations. This examination leads to the conclusion that claims of distribution cannot be accommodated by a social system or a theory of justice purporting to secure equality to all members of society irrespective of race, gender and cultural differences. This conclusion is valid either for societies whose basic political principles claim cultural neutrality towards their members or societies whose principles forfeit such neutrality but promise universal inclusion of them.
1. Multiculturalism: Between Recognition and Distributive Justice
Multicultural politics is designed to address social practices that involve misrecognition or negative labeling of certain groups in society. But there are controversies among supporters of multiculturalism as to the operative conclusions and steps that ought to be embarked upon when addressing these practices. Should collective identities be politicized? It is possible to identify two main approaches in this regard: a non-multicultural, minimalist approach and a multicultural, maximal approach.
The minimalist approach is the one maintaining that political efforts should be made to lift all obstacles preventing individuals from integrating as full and equal members in society. Nancy Fraser, for instance, gives a systematic expression to this approach. Fraser states that misrecognition indeed constitutes a form of institutional inferiority, and therefore it severely violates the principles of justice. But the demand for recognition, she argues, should not be viewed as a demand to fortify group identity but to overcome the inferior status in which members of a cultural group – either ascribed or constructed – are confined. “Misrecognition,” says Fraser, “does not mean the depreciation and deformation of group identity. Rather, it means social subordination in the sense of being prevented from participating as a peer in social life”. Fraser distinguishes then between two models derived from the politics of recognition: an identity model and a status model. She, however, rejects the former and espouses the latter.
The identity model, says Fraser, should be rejected for two main reasons. The first reason – that is consistent with the criticism made by those associated with the American left – is that this model leads to the displacement of the politics of distribution by politics of identity. This is done, according to Fraser, either by those who “simply ignore” distributive issues and exert efforts to changing the culture, or by those who believe that “maledistribution is merely a secondary effect of misrecognition”, and want to rectify this problem. In either case, Fraser argues, the identity model of the politics of recognition is misguided, since it severely compromises the concern of male-distribution.
The second reason – consistent with postmodern and poststructuralist approaches – is that the identity model leads to the reification and essentialization of cultural identities. This, in turn, formidably confines individuals within cultural communities. “Stressing the need,” Fraser says, “to elaborate and display an authentic, self-affirming and self-generated collective identity, it puts moral pressure on individual members to conform to a given group culture”. The reification of culture is a problem that carries special significance to cultural groups that maintain hierarchies between their members such as between men and women or between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in the case of Israeli Jewish society. Thus, emphasizing the significance of culture may result in providing moral support to discriminatory practices against women.
In view of the problems plaguing the identity model of the politics of recognition, the status model appears to provide better solutions to inequalities figuring a strong connection between the inferior socioeconomic status of certain members of society and their cultural distinctiveness. Thus, this model suggests that the required form of recognition they need is the one allowing them to participate as full and equal members in the social life, that is; allowing them to enter relationship with others on equal grounds. The desired form of recognition then is not the one intended to rectify group identity but to secure the equal status of all individuals as full participants in social relationship. That is, the status model is concerned with the lifting of the obstacles put in front of them, obstacles resulting from their either ascribed or constructed distinctiveness. The status model of the politics of recognition aspires to bring about a situation in which the social status of individuals is not effected by this distinctiveness.
Following this approach, it means that the identity model of recognition is replaced with the status model. This model, Fraser argues, is “not committed a priori to any one type of remedy for misrecognition; rather, it allows for a range of possibilities, depending on what precisely the subordinated parities need in order to be able to participate as peers in social life”.
Fraser’s reservations about the identity model receive attention in the work of those who share these reservations but emphasize, nonetheless, the significance of cultural identity as a principle of political action. They endorse the anti-essentialist point but reject the possibility that social groups can be identified on the basis of either of clear and distinct disposition, may they be inborn or acquired. They nonetheless support political action based on collective identity as an important and necessary tool for social change. Actually, they endorse Spivak’s idea of “strategic essentialism” and Appadurai’s idea of “structured primoridalism”. That is, parallel to their acknowledgement that collective identities are “socially constructed” and occasionally harmful, they believe that there are good reasons why sometimes they should nonetheless be constructed. The construction of such identities may provide social groups who face various forms of oppression with the symbolic and material wherewithal needed to initiate meaningful social change.
In contrast to these somewhat reserved approaches towards collective identities, there are other thinkers who maintain more favorable attitudes towards collective identities. This is, then, the maximal approach. Supporters of this approach argue that collective identities and cultural communities are crucially important to the development of human beings. Communitarians such as Sandel and Taylor argue that individuals cannot form their personal identities independently of a given community and its values. Individuals, they add, learns about themselves and consolidate their identity only in a community in which they are embedded and from which they derive their values and what is meaningful in life.
Although not espousing an essentialist position with
respect to cultural communities and collective identities as
Independently of the ontological status of cultural identities, Kymlicka distinguishes between three kinds of collective rights: rights to self-government, polyethnic rights, and representative rights. The aim of these rights – that are consistent with universal principles – is to protect minority groups from the political and economic power of society in large, while each kind is intended to deal with one kind of constraint. These rights, however, presuppose that every political framework carries – either implicitly or explicitly – a distinct collective and cultural identity. That is, the demand to secure some of the rights come up on the assumption that the cultural and collective identity is an integral part of every polity - there is no polity that lacks collective identity.
Self-government rights: These rights secure a considerable measure of autonomy to certain cultural groups. The provision of self-government rights are intended to ensure these groups “the full and free development of their cultures and the best interests of their people”. These rights concern “societal cultures,” namely cultures that “provide their respective members “meaningful ways of life across the full range of human activities, including social, educational, religious, recreational and economic life, encompassing both public and private spheres”. Indigenous and national minorities are the typical examples of the groups who are entitled, according to Kymlicka, to these rights.
Polyethnic rights: these rights intend to protect specific religious and cultural practices which might not be adequately supported through the market… or which are disadvantaged… by existing legislation”. The polyethnic rights are provided to groups that do not display the feature characterizing societal cultures, such as immigrant groups. These groups, Kymlicka argues, consist of individuals who voluntarily immigrated to the country of their choice and they struggle mainly for their right to assimilate into society as full and equal members. The polyethnic rights are intended therefore to facilitate this process. They intended, as Kymlicka argues, “to help ethnic groups and religious minorities express their cultural particularity and pride without it hampering their success in the economic and political institutions of the dominant society”.
Representative rights: these rights are intended to provide representative rights to ethnic or national minorities within political institutions so that their interests are not compromised by decision-making political processes. (Unlike self-government and polyethnic rights, representative rights are considered as temporary measures aiming to compensate for systematic discrimination resulting from under- representation of various groups in society, i.e., “ethnic and racial minorities, women, the poor and the disabled”. One of the obvious forms of representative rights is manifested in the policies of affirmative programs.
It should be noted that the distinction
Kymlicka makes between the different types of rights
is not endorsed by all. Critics of Kymlicka believe
that these distinctions are too rigid. The main thrust of the criticism is
directed against the manner he defines those groups entitled to polyethnic rights – immigrant groups. His critics argue
that it is not accurate to view all immigrants as individuals who voluntarily
join the receiving society and want to assimilate within it. Immigration, they
say, is often a traumatic experience forced upon individuals and hence cannot
be perceived as an act of choice exerted under optimal conditions. Many
immigrants are willing to immigrate to any society that is willing to take them
in or to any society displaying the provide them with
a shelter protecting them form political persecution, economic distress, or
natural disasters. Therefore, their immigration to this or that country does
not indicate their readiness to relinquish their culture. In view of these considerations, it is
questionable whether the rights to self-government should be reserved only to
indigenous national minorities. Thus, for instance, it is possible to imagine
providing Turkish minorities in
Who is right and who is wrong? What
form should multiculturalism take? Should we opt for a status model of the
politics of recognition, or for the identity model? In what cases should we
bestow self-government rights and the other kinds of rights? Now, the pronoun
‘we’ should not be understood universally. That is, there is no universal point
of view that can assist us in categorically determining the validity of, for
instance, the identity versus the status model of the politics of recognition.
Similarly, and contra Kymlicka, one cannot determine a
priori that self-government rights are bestowed only on indigenous national
minorities. As stated, although such minorities often present clear cases when
the status of their members as free and equal human beings can be guaranteed by
endowing them with such rights (on top of other rights), it is not clear that
self-government rights are not sometimes required to secure this status to
immigrant communities. Thus, for instance, the fact that ultraorthodox
Jews constitute an immigrant community in the
What are the implications of multiculturalism to Israeli society and its “basic structure”? As stated, in answering this question I will focus on the Palestinian/Jewish divide, the religious/non-religious divide, the Mizrahi/Ashkenazi divide, the gender divide and the veteran/immigrant divide. Broadly speaking, these divides yield different solutions, making different use of the three types of group rights suggested by Kymlicka. That is, while the Palestinian divide and the religious/secular divide requires Multiculturalism in Separate Public Spaces (MSPS), the Mizrahi/Ashkenazi divide and the gender divide requires Multiculturalism in Common Public Spaces (MCPS).
The distinction between the MSPS model and the MCPS model is not definitive. But in contrast to the MCPS model, the MSPS typically involves the demand of minority groups to be granted self-government rights, which, in turn, require the establishment of separate arrangements and institutions. Thus, the MSPS model may require, for instance, the establishment or reinforcement of segregated neighborhoods and towns, separate educational streams (that use the language of minority groups and develop a curriculum emphasizing the culture and history of each group) and separate media institutions (e.g., TV’s and radio’s channels). Similar arrangements may be also required in other fields of art (film, theatre, etc.,) and even in the economic fields where novel initiatives are needed in order to boost minorities’ economic development.
In contrast to the MSPS, the MCPS model involves polyethnic and representative rights. The main concern of these rights is that the cultures of various minority groups and their histories are integrated within the common public spaces. The groups who advance the multicultural demands that accord with this model do not wish to establish their own segregated communities. Rather, they argue that that society at large misrecognized them and their respective cultures and hence encourages the creation of formal and informal obstacles that impede their full and equal integration in society. The cultural demands that accord with the MCPS model amount to, as Kymlicka would describe it, temporary measures aiming to secure equal and full participation of minority groups in society. This, however, should not mislead us to underrate the value of the cultural demands that accord with the MCPS model, for the integration of the culture and history of minority groups may often entail considerable revisions of the culture and history of society.
3. Multiculturalism and Separate Public Spaces:
The Jewish-Palestinian Divide
In many respects, the Palestinian/Jewish divide is
the most rigid of all divides characterizing Israeli society. The Israeli
Palestinians constitute an indigenous national minority that once was a
majority within the territorial borders of
The second consociational
arrangement suggests that
Anyhow, those supporting the more extensive
bi-national arrangement argue that the prospect of two separate states is
anyway becoming difficult to realize due to the following two main reasons.
First, demographically speaking, it becomes ever difficult to secure either a
Jewish homogenous nation-state or a Palestinian homogenous nation-state due to
the existence of a sizable Palestinian national minority living within Israel’s
1948 borders and due to the increase in the number of the Jewish settlements
and settlers in the occupied territories (especially in the West Bank). Second,
the Jewish and Palestinian populations are spread over a limited territory that
shares the same ecological system that requires closely joint efforts to manage
and control it. Third, Palestinian society is greatly dependent on Israeli
economy, sharing, for instance, the same labor market. Thus, not instituting a
bi-national arrangement, the implementation of the two-state solution will lead
to the political and economic subordination of the
In any case, the demand to grant Palestinians cultural
and national autonomy (while neutralizing
The Palestinian quest for self-government rights – in one form or another – should be examined against the concerns raised in the previous section about the problems associated with the politics of recognition. These rights, no doubt, entail some form of an identity model of the politics of recognition. That is, they include the Palestinians' rights to manage their educational and cultural affairs, intending to preserve and cultivate Palestinian cultural identity. Can we say, therefore, that the demand to satisfy these rights involves “the problem of displacement” and the “problem of reification”? That is, can we say that the demand to satisfy them emphasizes issues of identity at the cost of ignoring issues of distribution? Furthermore, to what extent this demand confines individuals within rigid collectivities?
In fact, when we ponder these questions we see that no simple answer can be given to them. More importantly, we also see why it is impossible to make a clear-cut distinction between the identity model and the status model. Let us examine these issues closely by looking first at the context in which Palestinians’ demand for self-government rights come about. First, the Palestinians constitute a national group that began to form in the 1830’s. Now, like all national groups, the Palestinian national group is no doubt an ‘imagined community’ that involved selective interpretation of history and the fabrication of primordial past and myths. But this does not change the reality and facticity of Palestinian collective identity, as much as the use of the same methods does not change the reality and facticity of other national identities. Kymlicka’s words on this issue are right on the mark. “Much has made,” writes Kymlicka, “in the recent literature of the social construction of national identity, and of the invention of tradition. And of course much of the mythology accompanying national identities is just that – a myth. But it is important not to confuse the heroes, history, or present-day characteristics of a national identity with the underlying national identity itself. The former is much more malleable than the latter”.
National identities do indeed involve a considerable
measure of reification and maybe should be transcended, but it is unreasonable
and unfair to demand of national minorities to relinquish ‘their’ national
identity while they constitute oppressed minorities within states (e.g.,
The struggle against the various forms of oppression
shows that the identity and the status models are often inextricably
intertwined. That is, strengthening and solidifying group identity is sometimes
a necessary means for a successful struggle for equal status in society. There
are no short cuts in this regard. That is to say, the prospect of transforming
The Religion/non-Religion Divide
Although quite different in nature, the option of a consociational, multicultural democracy seems also to be an adequate solution, mutatis mutandis, to the relationship that should hold between religious and non-religious groups. Granting religious groups with cultural autonomy that accord with the MSPS, they should be able, with the assistance of the state, to maintain their unique way of life. That is, they are granted the right to a separate educational system and the right to control the public sphere of their segregated communities. As we saw, unlike the analogous demand in the case of the Jewish/Palestinian divide, these rights are fully met, with one major exception. While recognizing the equal right of all groups to religious autonomy, non-Jewish religious institutions are severely discriminated, as stated, in the allocation of material resources. 
The provision of cultural autonomy to
religious groups leaves an important issue unresolved. Religious groups may
argue that alone, this arrangement works in favor of the dominant groups
because it leaves no room for religious groups to participate in shaping the
character of the common public spaces. This disadvantage, they might
continue, cannot be justified especially when a state displays no neutrality
towards the different cultures existing within it. Thus, they may demand that
they be allowed to partake in shaping the character of the common public spaces
by incorporating religious elements in them. And indeed, this is the demand
that Jewish religious leaders make against the State of Israel. They state that
they recognize the right of non-observant Jews to lead their private life as
they wish but demand that the public sphere carry the hallmark of Jewish
religion. “The practical and positive attitude of the ultra-orthodox Judaism to
the State of Israel,” state Rabbi Shtookhammer, the
former secretary of the ultra orthodox religious party, Agudat
The demand of
ultra-orthodox Jews that the public sphere of
Given what they see as excessive intrusion
of religion into
However, the self-government rights granted to religious groups yield uncomfortable results when assessed against the reservations Fraser voices about the identity model of the politics of recognition. It seems that her claims that the demands of religious groups to be granted self-government rights involves the shortcomings Fraser associates with this model. Thus, for instance, one can hardly deny that the demand of ultra-religious groups to be granted self-government rights that protect their unique way of life indicates a flagrant and willing repudiation of the politics of distribution on behalf of the politics of identity. Following a critical theme against the politics of identity, it is possible to say that the protection of this way of life is crucially detrimental to the well being of the members of ultra-orthodox groups. It does not encourage the development of the capacities and competence of their members needed to exploit the opportunities for economic improvement and self-realization offered by Israeli society. That is, ultra orthodox religious values and codes of behavior put religious individuals in a disadvantageous position in Israeli society. Although some may argue that this criticism presupposes a system belief dominating post-industrial capitalist societies and reflecting bourgeoisie ethos and values, they cannot easily dismiss it such as this. They cannot ignore the fact, for instance, that the rate of members of ultra-orthodox groups living under poverty line is extremely high. One cannot, then, convincingly justify abject poverty by appealing to cultural norms and ideals.
Things get, however, more complicated
when we recognize that the protection of the way of life embraced by members of
ultra-orthodox religious groups does not touch merely on the question whether
the state can or cannot interfere with it in order to increase their life
chances. As things stand, the protection of this way of life requires generous
material assistance provided by the state, which, in turn, played a crucial
role in its expansion among the members of these groups. Hence, should not the
state create negative incentives in order to encourage them to seek economic
independence? Should not the state create such incentives in order to mitigate
the threat posed to its welfare system by the allocation of generous welfare
benefits to citizens who incline to be part of its working force? The
multicultural position I advance suggests that the state is within its right to
act in this manner. I believe, however, that many ultra-orthodox Jews and their
leaders understand that the state cannot continue to provide this assistance
and they make first attempts to integrate actively within
Viewed form a multicultural perspective, the way of life embraced by ultra-orthodox groups involves another major problem. This problem is also associated with the provision of self-government rights to religious groups; namely, the problem of the reification of culture. As we saw, the problem is that minority groups often use these rights to impose oppressive codes of behavior on some of their members. As Kymlicka emphasizes, (liberal) multiculturalism rejects such practices and condemns them. But he – as well as other multiculturalists – does not offer a systematic way as how to handle such practices.
Compared with the difficulties posed by religious
groups to the possible implementation of the ideal of multicultural democracy,
its implications for other segments of society are much easier to accommodate.
I have in mind women, Mizrahi Jews, and new
immigrants, mainly from former Soviet republics and from
Implementing the ideal of multicultural democracy regarding these groups would require mainly revisions of symbolic institutions and public practices that underpin the various forms of exclusion, discrimination and marginalization directed against them. Thus, the implementation of the ideal of multicultural democracy in the case of these groups can be facilitated by granting them mainly polyethnic and representative rights. On some occasions, however, this ideal can also be facilitated by granting them quasi-self-government rights.
Gender Relations and the Mizrahi/Ashkenazi Divide
As far as the Mizrahi/Ashkenazi
divide and the gender divide go, it is generally the case that the oppressed
groups (Mizrahim and women) do not call for the
establishment of segregated communities. The main concern of these groups is to
curtail the discriminatory practices that are mediated through cultural
misrecognition of their members. Thus, on the one hand, there are the forceful
The struggle of women and Mizrahim
bear strong similarities since both groups, as stated, seek the rectification
of their group identity as one of the necessary means to participate in social
life as full and equal members. As stated, these groups do not wish
to establish segregated communities but want to bring changes in the very
hegemonic culture. The desired changes cannot be dismissed as a trifle. In the
case of Mizrahi Jews it may, first, call for a new
narration of the common and troubled Mizrahi/Ashkenazi
past; and second, it may require the incorporation Mizrahi
historical and cultural heritage (that does not fall squarely within the
strictures of Zionist logic) into
Similar revisions in the national culture are required
in the case of women. “Do women,” asks Herzog, “have interests qua women”? Rightly, Herzog does not give a straight answer to
this question, for it is highly controversial. Reviewing, however, some of the
work written by Israeli women on gender and gender inequality it becomes clear,
more or less, that most of them favor strategies and are committed to causes
that may secure women equal and full participation in society. Thus it is
mainly a combination of a struggle to uproot preconceptions that degrade women
and confine them to inferior social status and a demand to grant women
representative rights in the political arena and in the public job market
(e.g., affirmative action programs aiming to increase the ratio of women in
these fields). Furthermore, as Friedman notes, the quiet “gender revolution” of
the last two decades has taken place mainly in home-based politics, challenging
patriarchal hegemony and achieving a considerable equality between the sexes. This orientation mirrors the effect that women
authors have on
Although completely different form the
two schisms dealt with before, also the present schisms (the Mizrahi/Ashkenazi schism and the women/ men schism) do not
permit an easy severance between claims of recognition and claims of
distribution. That is, the fact that most Mizrahi
Jews and women seek full and equal integration within society, does not mean
that they relinquish claims of recognition. Thus, even those matters that
seemingly touch solely on issues of recognition tend to have distributive
ramifications. This is the case, for instance, concerning the demand that the
“nation’s collective memory” incorporates the unique role that Mizrahi Jews and women had played during
Russian Immigration: Multicultural Challenges in a Global Era
comparison with the Mizrahim and women, immigrants
from the former soviet unions present a different multicultural challenge to
Israeli society. First, It should be noted that the
integration of the Russian immigrants to Israeli society has not been
accompanied by a strict adoption of the Israeli and Hebrew culture. This explains in part the fact that the Russian
community has developed a vibrant literal industry producing books, newspapers
and journals. In the beginning of the last decade the distribution of all these
publications has reached the mark of one million: four national newspapers,
nine local newspapers, twelve weekly magazines, one children magazine, and five
periodicals dealing with culture and literature. Not only constructing Israeli
reality differently than Hebrew literal industry, this industry also challenges
the boundaries of
What is the appropriate way to
accommodate the need of Russian immigrants to maintain their cultural identity?
What is the way to transform the de facto multiculturalism displayed in
the relationship between the Russian immigrants and Israeli society into de jure multiculturalism? Does this de facto multiculturalism
require self-government rights or only polyethnic and
representative rights? Do the Russian immigrants, as Kymlicka
would have argued, constitute a group that wants to assimilate within Israeli
society and hence should be denied self-government rights? I believe that it is
impossible to provide a straightforward answer in favor of Kymlicka’s
position in this regard. While maintaining their unique cultural identity, most
immigrants from the former
Ethiopian Immigration: Multiculturalism and the new Challenge of Race
A more complicated case, however, is the status of
Ethiopian immigrants in
Israeli society has traditionally aspired to become a homogeneous collective modeled after ethno-cultural principles. Nonetheless, and after many and continuous efforts to achieve this goal, Israeli society is characterized by accentuated cultural heterogeneity. Actually, these efforts themselves have crucially contributed to the consolidation of some of the cultural schisms characterizing it. Furthermore, these very efforts, that have assumed rigid cultural hierarchy, have also contributed to the emergence of socioeconomic inequalities in Israeli society. That is, these inequalities were facilitated by the dialectics of nation-building processes – processes that simultaneously construct a homogeneous collective and divide it into different social groups that are assigned different cultural and human worth. This is then the historical context in which the practices of misrecognition and non-recognition have taken place, leading to various forms of formal and informal discrimination. How should oppressed groups (and society at large) act against these forms of male-treatment? Multicultural democracy aspires to provide an answer to this question. It suggests an approach that combines claims of recognition and claims of redistribution. This is not to say, of course, that these claims cannot exist independently of each other. The sentiment towards reductionism ought to be resisted when it comes form either direction. Resisting this sentiment, however, we should realize that practices of misrecognition and practices of male-distribution very often coalesce into an indistinguishable whole. Hence, the remedy to this unholy union must assume a two-fold approach.
This approach requires various strategies (that vary, as we saw, according changing circumstances). Sometimes it requires that members of minority groups (e.g., national minorities) develop awareness of their cultural distinctiveness and define their own sectarian interests, whether symbolic or/and material. On other occasions it requires that members of ethnic groups form ad hoc organizations and movements whose aim is to facilitate the incorporation of their heritage within main stream culture and their full and equal participation in society.
Multiculturalism and its attendant strategies reflect the disillusionment of many social groups from grand narratives and universal political programmes. It emerged after they realized that while such programmes – e.g., liberalism, nationalism, socialism, capitalism and now globalism – carry a universal promise of economic progress and personal self-development, they tend to further mainly the interests of the few – the dominant groups of every society. Still, however, multiculturalism is not necessarily inconsistent with some of these programmes; but it requires that special attention is given to social groups in their implementation. It emerges, as stated, in reaction to the tendency of grand political programmes to allow discrimination and marginalization of social groups while promulgating universal values and ideals.
Now, of course, one has to concede to the charge that multiculturalism runs the danger of undercutting efforts to form an extended social coalition against formidable forces that cause deep socioeconomic inequalities in society. Identity politics, no doubt, may encourage mutual alienation and resentment among social groups who face similar forms and oppressions. This is indeed a possibility that does often follow the essentialization and reification of cultural identity. It presents a substantial challenge, therefore, before those supporting the multicultural approach. Multiculturalism can offer a viable and legitimate political agenda only when it meets this challenge successfully.
. Isaac Baar
and Ben-Zion Dinur, “Our Orientation”,
. Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking
Recognition”, New Left Review, Vol. 3 (2000), pp. 107-120; Nancy Fraser,
“Recognition without Ethics”, in Scott Lash and Mike Featherstone (eds.), Recognition
and Difference: Politics, Identity, Multiculture (
. Nancy Fraser, “Recognition without Ethics”, Ibid., p. 24.
. Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking Recognition,” op. cit., pp. 110-111.
. Ibid, p. 112.
. See also Amy Gutmann, “The Challenge of Multiculturalism in Political Studies”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 22, No. 3 (1993), pp. 171-206; Susan M. Okin, “Thought on Feminism and Multiculturalism”, Politicka, Vol. 1 (1998), pp. 9-26. (Hebrew).
. Ibid, p. 113.
. Giatry Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak”, Theory and Criticism, Vol. 7 (1995), pp. 31-66. (Hebrew).
. Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
. See, for instance, Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1982); Charles Taylor, “Cross-Purpose: The Liberal-Communitarian Debate”, in Nancy Rosenblum (ed.), Liberalism and the Modern Life (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 159-182; Charles Taylor, “The Politics of Recognition”, in Amy Gutmann (ed.), Multiculturalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994).
. Will Kymlicak, Multicultural Citizenship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 93. To secure the liberal character of multiculturalism and to forestall the danger of reification, Kymlicka emphasizes that parallel to the right of cultural communities to preserve their identities and ways of life, the right of individuals to exist from the community must be maintained. But as critics of Kymlicka rightly argue, the practical significance of this right is doubtful.
. Ibid, p. 38.
. Ibid, p. 27.
. Ibid, p. 76.
. Ibid, p. 38.
. Ibid, p. 31.
. Ibid, p. 37.
. Ibid, p. 32.
. It seems that the demand to secure minority groups’ polyethnic rights is consistent with the position of Fraser as well as with Spivak’s “strategic essentialism” and Appadurai’s “structured primordialism, and this is due to the temporary dimension of this demand. So it seems, one should not confuse the ontological status of cultural identities with the collective rights discourse. That is to say, there is no reason why those who view these identities as a result of social processes and not as primordial and essential entities, endorse this discourse (except if they are, like Fraser, reject this discourse straightforwardly).
. See, for example, Iris M. Young, “A Multicultural Continuum: A Critique of Will Kymlicka’s Ethnic-Nation Dichotomy”, Constellations, Vol. 4, No. 1 (1997), pp. 48-53.
arrangements are not the only possibility introduced in discussions concerning
the Palestinian/Jewish divide. There is a third possibility, one that defies
the logic of the first two. It suggests to do away with group rights altogether
. Azmi Bishara, “The Arab in
. Cited in Sami Smooha, “Ethnic Democracy:
. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, “National Colonial Theology”, Tikkun, Vol. 14, No. 3 (1999), pp. 11-16.
Sami Smooha, “Ethnic
. This development is not unique to
the Palestinian national minority of
. Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, p. 183.
. Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal, Palestinians: The Making of a People (New York: Free Press, 1993).
. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Spread and the Origins of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991).
. Will Kymlicka, Multicultural
Citizenship, op. cit., p. 185. Anthony Smith, the prominent historian of nationalism,
writes similarly: “Whenever and however a national identity is forged, once
established, it becomes immensely difficult, if not impossible (short of total
genocide) to eradicate.” Anthony Smith, “A Europe of Nations – or the Nation of
. It seems that Azmi
Bishara’s position concerning Palestinian national
identity follows this line of argument. He advocates a three-stage program. The
first stage is completed after securing the Palestinians within
. It should be noted that according to multiculturalist such as Kymlicka the demand for minority collective rights is also justified when the state is modeled after the ideal of liberal democracy and not only after ethno-cultural principles. The reason justifying this demand under such circumstances is that in the absence of protection from the state, the culture of minority groups faces a serious danger of extinction. As we saw, this is also the position held by Bishara.
. Jews are much more entranced in their objection to
this arrangement than Palestinians. According to Smooha,
only 4.5% of them supported this option.
See Sami Smooha,
. See Avishai
Margalit and Moshe Halbertal,
“Liberalism and the Right to Culture”, Social Research, Vol. 61, No. 3
(1994), pp. 491-510. Due to limited space, I do not examine the implications of
multiculturalism to non-ultra-orthodox religious Jews. I do that, though,
elsewhere. See Yossi Yonah,
“Fifty Years Later: The Scope and Limits of Liberal Democracy in
. Adalh’s Review, No. 1 (1999), p. 32.
. It is difficult to draw the analogous and possible claims of non-Jewish religions against the State of Israel. Like Jewish religious groups, they might also demand that the public spaces of Israeli society give some room to elements drawn from their religions. However, refusing to relinquish its ethno-cultural, Jewish character, the Jewish State would find it utterly unacceptable to accede to these demands. This, of course, does not nullify the prima facie force of this possible demand.
. Avishai Shtookhammer, ‘The State of
. There is an on-going controversy
over the authority of “non-recognizable Jewish streams” (Reform and
Conservative Judaism) to convert non-Jews to Judaism within
. Amiti Etzioni, ‘The Community of Communities”, The Responsive Community, Vol. 7, No. 1 (1996/7), p. 24.
. For this kind of criticism, see, for instance, Jose Brunner and Yoav Peled, “On Autonomy, Competence and Democracy: Critique of Liberal Multiculturalism”, in Menachem Mautner, Avi Sagi and Ronen Shamir (eds.), Multiculturalism in a Democratic and Jewish State (Tel Aviv: Ramot, 1999), pp. 107-132. (Hebrew).
 . Karnit
Flug and Nitza Kasir, On Poverty, Work and What
lies in Between (
See more on this topic in Yehouda Goodman and Yossi Yonah, “Introduction:
Religiosity and Secularism in
. Will Kymlicka
and Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “Democracy and
Multiculturalism”, in Raphael
Cohen-Almagor (Ed.), Challenges to
Democracy: Essays in Honour and Memory of Isaiah
For systematic discussion of this topic, see Ela
Shohat, “Sephardim in
. See Debbi Bernstein and Shlomo Swirski, “The Rapid Economic Development of
See Debbi Bernstein and Shlomo
Swirski, “The Rapid Economic Development of
. See Dafana
Izraeli et. al. (eds.),
Sex, Gender Politics: Women in
. For a systematic development of
this point, see Ariella Friedman, “On Feminism,
Femininity and Women’s Power in Israeli Society”, in Dafna
Izraeli et. al.,
(eds.), Sex, Gender Politics: Women in
. The grouping of members of Israeli society into Women and Mizrahim is of course too coarse. But aside from the majority of Palestinian and Ultra-orthodox women whose demand for recognition may be met within segregated public spaces, the demands for recognition of most other women is likely to be met within common public spaces, despite the difference among them.
. More on this topic, see Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, “Orientalism, Jewish Studies and Israeli Society: A Few Comments,” Jamaa, Vol. 3 (1998), pp. 34-61. (Hebrew).
. Hanna Hertzog,
“Women in Politics and Women’s Politics,” in Dafna Izraeli et. al.
(eds.), Sex, Gender Politics: Women in
. Ariella Friedman, “On Feminism, Femininity and Women’s Power in Israeli Society”, op. cit., p. 41.
. Hannah Naveh,
“Life outside the Canon”, in Dafna Izraeli et. al. (eds.),
Gender Politics: Women in
. More on this topic, see, for instance, Yossi Dahan and Gal Levi, “Multicultural Education in a Zionist State”, Studies in Philosophy and Education, Vol. 19, No. 5-6 (2000), pp. 423-444. Shas, of course, contradicts this claim. However, I chose to place it under the category of ultra-orthodox religious groups. However, this is not intended to overlook the fact that Shas provides a good example whereby the reification of cultural identity produces the problems associated with it. Actually, this reification was clearly apparent during the election campaign of Shas prior to the last general elections (January 2003). While advancing an ultra-orthodox political agenda, it stresses a Mizrahi narrative of oppression and discrimination of the state and its Ashkenazi elites against Mizrahi Jews.
. Following this logic, the Minister of Education has decided that beginning in 2004, 30 percent of the literary works included in school literature curriculum will be of Mizrahi authors.
. Baruch Kimmerling,
The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State,
Culture and Military in
. More on this topic, see, for instance, Baruch Kimmerling, “The New Israelis: Cultural Heterogeneity without Multiculturalism”, Alpayim, Vol. 16 (1998), pp. 213-247. (Hebrew); Elieazer Leshem and Moshe Lissak, “The Social and Cultural Consolidation of the Russian Community in Israel”, in Moshe Lissak and Eliezer Leshem (eds.), From Russia to Israel: Identity and Culture in Transition (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameauchad, 2001), pp. 27-76. (Hebrew).
 . See article by Tamar Horowitz in this book.
. Tamar Horowitz, “Value-Oriented Parameters in Migration Policies in the 1990: The Israeli Experience”, International Migration, Vol. 34, No. 4 (1996), pp. 513-531.
. More on this topic, see Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (London: Verso, 1991); Yossi Yonah and Ishak Saporta, “Pre-Vocational Education and the Making of the Working Class in Israel”, in Hannan Haver, Yehouda Shenhav and Pnina Motzafi-Haller (eds.), Mizrhaim in Israel: A New Critical Discussion, op. cit., pp. 68- 104.