The short answer is no, you can't, but there is a reason for that which becomes apparent the moment you look at a CMYK "white" swatch. It's 0% everything: no ink.
White, to Illustrator, is not a color or a mixture of colors, it is an absence of ink. Even if you're working with an RGB document, that's still the way Illustrator thinks about color: white = absence.
When setting a layout to be printed with white pigment, such as for screen printing on clothing, or product labels that are printed directly onto glass or plastic, the artwork is usually submitted as black or a faux spot color with instructions to print using white. It's similar to the way that spot varnish is specified on a layout. The important thing is that it will separate on its own plate, not what color it appears to be on the screen.
That's why ilan's solution won't work for you. If you simulate colored paper, then anything white will still disappear, because that's how Illustrator shows you that the paper will show through -- there's no pigment.
Your two solutions are to put a colored rectangle on a non-printing layer beneath your artwork, or temporarily change all your white fills or strokes to something visible for editing purposes, then change it back when you're ready to save.