Imposed Politics of Cultural Differences

Managed Multiculturalism in Israeli Civil Society

in Social Analysis

This article analyzes the processes by which multicultural discourses and practices are implemented and adapted in local settings. Based on five years of ethnographic fieldwork in an Israeli NGO that promotes economic and social rights, this work examines the micro-politics of multiculturalism and the complex uses of this concept by various Jewish and Arab actors in the organization. The research shows how multicultural notions concerning Arab culture were introduced by the Jewish actors in order to depoliticize Jewish-Arab relations and preserve the balance and stability within the organization. By adopting characteristics of state multiculturalism—in a country where multiculturalism is not an aspect of official government policy—the Jewish actors attempted to produce social change while preserving central elements in the hegemonic Zionist-nationalistic worldview.