Majority Nationalism Laws and the Equal Citizenship of Minorities: Experimental, Panel, and Cross-Sectional Evidence from Israel

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Western societies are increasingly enacting majority nationalism laws to strengthen majority culture. We propose that these laws may alter attitudes about minorities’ equal citizenship with varied impact on majorities and minorities. To explore this issue, we examine the impact of Israel’s recently enacted Nation Law on the Jewish majority and the Arab minority. Experimental evidence from before the law’s enactment reveals that both minority and majority respondents perceive the passage of the law as permitting discrimination against the minority in housing, employment, and voting, but the effect on minority respondents’ perceptions is larger. Panel and cross-sectional data from before and after the law’s enactment reveal that the effect on majority respondents was fleeting, whereas the negative impact on minority respondents was stronger and more durable. These findings expose the troubling effects of majority nationalism laws and suggest that law may operate as a prism, expressing different messages to different groups.

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