Community Democracy

By Ehud Tokatly

An innovative model for a new constitutional system in Israel, the Community Democracy is the heart of a much needed vision: New Zionism.


The new socio-political model addresses many of Israel's current problems. It defines the Jewish homeland as a federal republic, where the multitude of ethnic, cultural, religious and ideological communities enjoy autonomous status.

Non-Territorial Autonomy

Unlike traditional federal systems, these autonomous communities will not necessarily be defined within territorial boundaries.

These new communities will grant all social groups a considerable measure of control over their lives, thus allowing all citizens, Jews and Arabs of all kinds, to enjoy a just, pluralistic society, with a stronger, more democratic federal government.

The non-territorial nature of the proposed autonomous communities should allow all citizens to participate in several communities simultaneously, thus enhancing their free choice and civil liberties. It would also prevent the creation of ethnic or ideological "ghettos" on the one hand, and curb cultural paternalism on the other.

Jewish-Democratic State

Community Democracy draws from the legacy of Western Democracies, from the Zionist heritage and from a deep well of Jewish thought and religion, where universalism and particularism have been joined in dynamic dialogue throughout all ages.

Israel's commitment to its identity as both Jewish and Democratic can be fulfilled through the Communitarian spirit, rallying the vast majority of Israelis around noble ideals.

Pluralism and Solidarity

The proposed New Zionism is not a new ideology or dogma. Rather, it is a practical model, which offers a real chance for diverse ideologies and alternate lifestyles to coexist in the spirit of solidarity.

National unity is absolutely vital for Israel's very existence. But unity does not mean uniformity. Solidarity does not mean regimentation. Real equality must include the right to be different and the responsibility to nurture such differences with others.

The new model is, therefore, neither "right-wing" nor "leftist", neither "liberal" nor "conservative", neither "religious" nor "secularist", neither "western" nor "oriental"... It is certainly not a "post-Zionist" proposition, nor is it a frustrating compromise between clashing dreams.

Civil Society

Israeli Community Democracy would expand and link together the institutions and organizations of civil society which flourish today in Israel. All the proposed constitutional innovations should be based on the achievements of Israeli democracy and its institutions.

The magic is to do this through strengthening civic participation and mutual understanding. Various communities that are today disparate will thus come to feel a greater sense of ownership in the commonwealth, with a new sense of cohesiveness beyond the common defense imperative.

A Model For True Peace

The proposed model offers new ways to meet the challenges facing Israel in the 21st century. As such, it also holds the seeds for original socio-political design discussions and solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Non-territorial federalism may be the most practical concept for achieving just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, compromising neither historical rights nor security needs.

If You Will - It Is No Fairy Tale (Theodor Herzl)

Israelis have been brought up with the notion that dreams can come true. Large portions of The Zionist utopia have been fulfilled, perhaps even beyond the wildest aspirations of the founding pioneers.

Israel is a nation with a deep existential need for profound ideals. Its current material reality, harsh as it seems, is still far better than it has ever been since it lost its independence in ancient times. Israel's real problem is spiritual and communal. What Israelis really need is to find a new dream to bind them closer together and provide new hope for all.

Moreover, scholarly experts have endorsed the concept of Community Democracy as a most practical system for many societies in the new era. Many aspects of the analysis also apply to other modern societies. If the model succeeds in Israel, perhaps other countries would be interested in further exploring such ideas, applying the relevant principles to their own circumstances.

Let us, therefore, create the "Dream Of Dreams" - a dream that comprises a multitude of different aspirations. Israel can only benefit from cultural, ethnic, religious and intellectual variety.

Read about the Community Democracy in Ehud Tokatly's utopia "The New Altneuland"

About Ehud Tokatly and more of his articles

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