The Jarring Road to Democratic Inclusion: A Comparative Assessment of State-Society Engagements in Israel and Turkey

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By: Aviad Rubin
Yusuf Sarfati, Editor

Lanham, Boulder, New York and London: Lexington Books. 256pp. $90.00, ISBN: 9781498525077

Volume: 5 Issue: 10

October 2017

Review by:

Sanford R. Silverburg, Ph.D

Catawba College

Salisbury, NC

A great comparative political science collection of nine essays under the competent editorship of Aviad Rubin, a political scientist at the University of Haifa and Yusuf Safari, another political scientist, teaching at Illinois State University.  Together the authors deal with Kurds, non-Sunni Muslims, Armenians, and Greeks in Turkey, while in Israel the Jews, divided by Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Oriental-inclined believers, are living alongside Palestinian Muslims and Christians. The question to be studied, therefore, is how do each of these separate social and religious entities get along with one another under a unified governing structure, each of which seeks to achieve some degree of power projection?

First examined is the role of religion, its spiritual dimensions and representative institutions, placed against the theories of Jürgen Habermas, John Rawls, and Charles Taylor.  Where does one find faith in pronounced secular governance?  The author for this chapter, Sultan Tepe, argues for inclusion for all groups to insure inclusivity for the ultimate collective good.  The next prominent theme is an examination of how public and religious school systems are employed for the process of social mobilization.  While both political systems are drenched in religious fervor and embellishment, there is marked opposition shown in each and compared, anti-capitalists in Turkey, and Jewish women in Israel who seek greater autonomy from an orthodox opinion of their proper role.  As is the case with any political system, there is the overriding feature of political culture.  Rubin takes on this study with a finding that in Israel powerful political forces attempt to gain dominance whereas in Turkey the same elements approach power positioning in terms of hegemony.  Since both political systems are parliamentary democracies, the 2015 election was chosen as a case study to examine the relative power structure of either state’s party systems with the Joint List in Israel and the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Turkey.  A return to socio-religious concerns focuses on the important connector of marriage as an adhesive in any society. A concluding essay looks at the labor market with Turkish women as part of the Gastarbeiter phenomenon in Germany and Palestinian women in Israel, viewed with the perspective of the nature of inclusion of ethnic minorities.

One significant contribution to this book is the selective but up-to-date bibliography that is appended to each chapter which only adds to the value of what may be considered an expensive addition to an interested library or researcher.  The offerings of this book well serve research into social mobilization of ethnic minorities in democratic political systems.

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