chapter  2
Israel as a deeply divided society
Multiculturalism versus tribalism
WithMajid Ibrahim Al-Haj
Pages 41

This chapter analyses the historical background and evolution of Israeli society with reference to the various sociological approaches to issues of immigration, ethnicity, and the rifts in Israeli society—ethnic, religious, and national. It deals with the impact of the Israeli-Arab conflict on Israeli society, mainly on Jewish-Arab relations within Israel, the shaping of the political culture in Israel, and the collective identity of Israeli society. The chapter considers the main impediments for the development of multiculturalism and all-encompassing civil identity and the evolution of “tribal” identities in Israel. Four main factors have affected official policy toward the Palestinian citizens of Israel: the democratic character of the state; the Jewish-Zionist nature of the state; the ‘Western’ nature of the core cultural identity of Israel; and the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict. The historical basis of the religious-nonreligious divide among Jews goes back to the second half of the eighteenth century and the start of the process of secularization and emancipation.