Since 1980 Israel has turned into a multicultural state. This is neither a normative statement nor a description of a constitutional design as in other multicultural states that have committed themselves to inclusion and equality. Rather, the reality of Israel's multiculturalism is a large national minority, persisting ethnic identities, and recent immigrations, which contest the existing social order and public institutions. Multiculturalism in Israel, consequently, is not an end point but rather a novel reality, yet to be fully recognized, in which a consensus based on uniformity is unlikely in the near future, so new social arrangements and political agreements, and modes of cooperation between different groups must be sought for the sake of state, society, and democracy. This is especially pertinent as intensifying social cleavages – national, ethnic, religious, ideological, and socio-economic – undermine social solidarity, overburden the political system, and impede the functioning of Israeli democracy to the dangerous point of “ungovernability.”
Israeli democracy is endangered by the growing schisms between groups and by the state's inability to govern – that is to provide long-term acceptable solutions for the mounting dilemmas and to rule everyday life effectively. Deep schisms force the government to deal with increased, often contradictory, demands, and creating a consensus around any policy is almost impossible. This has resulted in overburdening and a governance crisis that is reflected in the difficulty of making decisions and, consequently, in the declining trust of citizens in state institutions and in other groups in society.