Citation: Soman, N., & Padmanabhan, B. (2020). Ethnic Democracy and the Case of Israel: A Parallel Reading of Sayed Kashua’s Let It Be Morning and Sammy Smooha’s “Ethnic Democracy”. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.7.1.03
The Ethnic Democracy model hinges on a complex political principle that sanctions undisguised bias in favour of a specific ethnic group. Thus, it is a system whose hierarchical design must, by its very nature, ignore any notion of democratic equality. The organising principle of Ethnic Democracy holds that the dominating or majority ethnic group shall have exclusive access to power, self-determination, and will have superior status in the socio-political life of the nation. Over and above its moral shortcomings, the feasibility of this model for governing in deeply divided societies should be examined to understand how Ethnic Democracy variously affects different social groups and how its architects envision the state’s commitments to its citizens. To that end, this paper has examined the case of Israel as epitome of this system. The social inequalities that separate Jews and Arabs are clear indication of an institutional bias that favours the Jewish ethnic group to the detriment of Israeli Arabs, despite Israel’s reputation as an impartial parliamentary democracy. In order to develop a cogent line of reasoning with which to analyse Israel’s ethno-democratic traits, this paper offers a parallel reading of Let It Be Morning, a novel written by the Arab Israeli writer Sayed Kashua, and the ground-breaking essay “Ethnic Democracy: Israel as an Archetype”, written by the Israeli sociologist Sammy Smooha.
Keywords: ethnic democracy, Israel, Jewish-Arab coexistence, Sayed Kashua, Sammy Smooha