Judaism and our state’s Jewishness do not contradict democracy. This may sound surprising, because the image of democracy immediately raises in our minds the horror of Arabs voting the Jewish state out of existence. The thing is, Arabs have no such right in a democracy.

What is democracy? Classical Athenian democracy refused citizenship not only to newcomers, but to their descendants forever. If that sounds like an anachronism, look at today’s Japan where citizenship is practically restricted to ethnic Japanese. Less democratic but still acceptable examples abound: The United Arab Emirates, a model Muslim country, a paragon of economic liberalism, and a respected ally of the West, restricts citizenship to native Arabs; Indians and Iranians whose families lived in the country before it became a state lack political rights. Don’t like the United Arab Emirates? Take the United American States: the world’s most liberal country has ethnic immigration quotas, thus regulating the ethnic makeup of its citizenry.

Many Arab inhabitants of Israel are newcomers to this land; their families immigrated here from Sudan, Egypt, and elsewhere in the early twentieth century during the citrus boom. Their status closely resembles that of modern American immigrants, or at least the UAE’s Iranian residents. There are many Palestinian Arabs who have lived here for centuries. One problem is defining “here,” as they lived in the hills and in Galilee; much of Smaller Israel sits on previously uninhabitable land Jews developed from sand and marshes—to this particular area, Israeli Arabs are newcomers. But many generally accepted countries discriminate against native populations. We don’t need to appeal to the obvious example of Chinese Uighurs and Tibetans. Until a few years ago, France—an exemplary liberal democracy—banned Breton names, let alone Breton language.

Jewish symbolism in Israeli politics is unexceptional. Scores of European countries, including our nemesis Sweden, sport crosses on their flags. In almost every European country, Christianity is the official religion at least in the sense of public holidays and weekends. In Britain and Spain, church and state are formally integrated.

The Israeli Law of Return is not unusual. Germany encourages immigration of ethnic Germans from Russia, and so does Finland, among other countries.

Democracy cannot decide everything. A majority of Americans cannot vote to enslave the remaining minority, nor could a party which controls the congress vote to ban its opponents. Since Ancient Greece, all democracies are republican, meaning that some values are closed to democratic decision-making. In terms of democratic liberalism, there is no difference between a republic which bans voluntary slavery (selling oneself for a reasonable amount) and Shabbat work; in both cases, society restricts private voluntary actions for the ostensible public good.

Democracy is a method which can serve any goal. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were reasonably democratic: had the communists allowed opposition parties, Stalin would still have won. Afghanis, who lost 1.5 million people in the American-sponsored mujahedeen insurrection, and Iraqis, who lost a million people in American-caused anarchy, might rightly be very skeptical about their democratic goals.

The “democracy” pushed on Israel by academic liberals and uncritical leftists is a utopia. That is the root of the problem. Nations have lived happily under almost every societal order: people work around restrictions, improve inadequacies, and generally make any societal arrangement workable. Jews can live under democratic rule just fine, but it has to be a real democracy rather than its fringe case of zero values. Society, by definition, is built around specific values; those values distinguish one society from another. A society which lacks non-negotiable values is bound to assimilate. Civil equality of Jews and Arabs is perfectly acceptable, but if they are equal politically then the state has no reason to call itself Jewish.

Again, this is not a problem of democracy as it is commonly practiced: France is a French state, and its constitution bars official status to minority languages. Egypt is an Arab republic despite a significant non-Arab population. Russia is named after the Russian people, though hundreds of ethnic groups live there. No matter how many immigrants live in Scotland, it is still named after the Scots. The Francs and Anglo-Saxons are long gone, but they left their names for their respective countries. Thus, the core group need not be a majority, it does not even have to exist as the state’s identity takes a life of its own. Often, national identities are fake to begin with: Basques and Catalans don’t identify with Spanish-ness.

Only recognition of the basic fact that a democracy need not be value-less—and particularly that it need not blind itself to the ethnicity of its core group—can prevent Israel’s erosion into yet another Middle Eastern state. Unlike liberal Jews, Arabs are not about to relinquish their culture or their attempts to bring it to the fore. If Jews decided to go ethnic-blind, Arabs would jump on the opportunity to write their values on the state’s tabula rasa.

Consider one example. Currently, Muslim countries are pumping investments into Israel’s sensitive areas. Saudis buy real estate in Jerusalem and Galilee and Jordanians pay for illegal Palestinian construction. When Arabs buy an apartment or two, Jews soon leave the building altogether, and the Arabs thus encroach on districts and entire towns. An ethnic-blind state cannot prevent Saudis from buying housing units in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The solution lies in recognizing the democratic reality and enforcing basic values on the entire state. Just like there is a dress code in the Vatican, so there must be one in the Jewish Quarter: Arabs are welcome to own apartments there, but they must dress like Orthodox Jews, observe Shabbat publicly, and refrain from building mosques. Just how outrageous is that? Imagine a muezzin waking up Boston residents at five in the morning. I bet that even the most passionate liberals would seek to shut the place down. France banned veils in public schools, what’s wrong with Israel banning them in public places? Israel’s core identity must be enforced to leave no room for cultural encroachers. Shabbat is a day of rest and Friday is strictly a workday, Hebrew is the only official language, state and synagogue remain symbiotic, and there must be no sharia for Muslim families—if they want to marry they must turn to rabbis. Muslim ceremonies must remain private, with no rallies or muezzin screams whatsoever. Animal slaughter must only be allowed at licensed facilities to prevent Muslims from making sacrifices and animal cruelty generally. And foremost—no autonomy whatsoever for minorities.

Israeli democracy is drastically different from not-so-liberal European examples. No European country has a coherent hostile minority which numbers 34 percent among its young. No civilized country now has to deal with a minority that owned its land just a few generations ago, and whose wound is still bleeding. A minority which dreams of taking the land back.. Morals did not change, the situation did: Europeans no longer need to suppress their native minorities. They have long passed the stage of nation-building and can now afford liberalism. Israel’s situation with the Arabs is worse than England’s with Northern Ireland. At least Northern Ireland is a compact enclave which does not seek to take over London. Israel’s Northern Ireland runs from the Arab villages in the Galilee to Bedouin towns in the Negev; the entire country is boiling. Against the backdrop of such extreme unrest, liberal policies look decidedly unnatural.

But they look unnatural everywhere. Since Plato—and in modern times, Rousseau—proponents of social engineering have tested their academic chimeras on entire nations. The Communist experiment, ethnic-blind democracy, and the peace process are links in the same chain. Often the very groups which oppose animal experiments want to experiment on Jews: would that kind of democracy work? The societal order they demand for Israel is neither a typical democracy nor an exemplary one. Rather, it is an unworkable hypothesis which is not even idealist, but demonstrably counterproductive. By refusing a realistic Jewish democracy, their utopian ethnic-blind liberalism paves the road to an oppressive Arab regime.