Sammy Smooha is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Haifa, and winner of the 2008 Israel Prize for Sociology and is serving as Israel Institute Visiting Professor at Near and Middle East Department, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, for the 2016-7 academic year. He has published widely on trends in Israeli democracy and society and since 2003 has conducted the annual Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel.
In this Fathom Forum video, Professor Smooha presents his ground-breaking research into Israeli democracy. He argues that as a proclaimed Jewish and democratic state, Israel prides itself of being a Western liberal democracy and is so conceived by many in the West. However, while it is by no means an ‘ethnocracy’ or another kind of ‘non-democracy’ as anti-Zionists have argued, Smooha’s detailed examination of the political features of Israel within the pre-1967 borders claims that it is not and cannot be a liberal democracy because of certain insurmountable structural impediments. Israel, he claims, is rather a resilient ethnic democracy (a Jewish and democratic state) and a semi-consociational democracy for the orthodox Jewish minorities, but not for the Palestinian-Arab minority.