The article addresses a common argument that tracks the historical roots of Israeli politics in the non-democratic political tradition of Eastern Europe. This popular picture is expressed in Yonatan Shapiro's monolithic depiction of a political society shaped by a domineering, hierarchical party, which only practiced procedural democracy. The article asserts that the political culture of the Yishuv and the State of Israel during its early years was a vibrant democratic culture whose members engaged in intensive struggles and self-examination of their political order. Two junctures of these many struggles are explored: the struggles that concluded with Mapai splitting in 1942-44, and the struggles of the early 1950s. They revolved around widespread, resounding demands in Mapai for an effective party-based democracy that would provide a foundation for inclusive democracy in the entire society. They expressed a democratic ethos based on conflicting principles of unity, authority, and participation and the various democratic systems of political representation that stem from these principles. Understanding this is a necessary condition for understanding how the state of Israel could become one of the few democratic states created following WW II, and how it managed to survive as such.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations