Shmuel Trigano

There is No "State of all its Citizens" (2015)

Post-Zionism and postmodernism reflect a new, totalitarian, democratic utopianism claiming we

have entered a post-national era: but it’s just not true.


This background explains the typically “Israeli” dilemma: Can Israel be a Jewish and democratic state? Interestingly, such a question is asked only about the State of Israel. No one asks whether France can be French and democratic, or if the United Kingdom, whose Queen heads the Anglican Church, is really democratic. Behind the question about Israel lies the gnawing doubt—inherited from the now-obsolete Emancipation—about the Jews being a people. The title “Jew” indicates the collective, political, legal entity, which is what counts in a democracy. After all, “democracy” means “rule of the people.” The Tower of Babel teaches there is no “universal” people. If there is a Jewish people there can be a Jewish democracy, without reservation.


Democracy developed only within the framework of the nation-state, tapping into the majority’s historical identity. When a democracy goes from a national regime to a utopia promising a “universal democracy,” or the universalist’s democratic individualism causes some kind of social disintegration, it jeopardizes the collective’s national identity—and totalitarianism erupts.


Viewed in this context, the post-Zionist slogan of a “state of all its citizens” is clearly demagoguery. A generic state, a universal society without a particular identity, does not exist anywhere in the world (and certainly not in the Muslim or broader postcolonial worlds). Obviously, the future of a country so “pure” is expected to be swallowed up by the Palestinian Muslim minority or a future Palestinian state—which, according to its planned constitution, will be declared as Muslim (its official religion), Arabic (belonging to the Arab nation/ “Ummah”), and Palestinian. The “monotheistic” religions would be reduced to the “dhimmi” status Jews already endured for centuries under Islam.