On Thursday Zvi lent me Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship by Gershon Shafir (UCSD) and Yoav Peled. It won the MESA prize for best book on the Middle East in 2002. I’m only in the introduction, but so far it is arguing that Israel lives in tension between three models of citizenship: liberal, republican, and ethno-nationalist. The liberal model expects the citizen to enjoy his individual rights and fulfill his individual responsibilities; government is primarily a tool for protecting those rights and enforcing those responsibilities. The republican model expects the citizen to participate fully in the political sphere; the true citizen is one who works for the good of the whole society, and through this also lives life most fully. The ethno-nationalist model sees the citizen as having “membership in a common descent group” (p. 6, from Liah Greenfield’s book Nationalism).
While reading Being Israeli I enjoyed a ride on Jerusalem’s brand new light rail, which is currently running for free in its introductory period. The rail has been criticized as linking East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem, thereby making it easier to turn the Palestinian neighborhoods Israeli (obviously an ethno-nationalist motivation). It caused me some cognitive dissonance, since I absolutely love cool public transportation (as a good lower-case r republican communitarian). I then walked down Salah al-Din, which was extremely lively. I’d like to find a good café over that way and enjoy my right (as a liberal individualist) to drink hot chocolate and watch the world go by.