Israel’s Hegemonic Right

Avishai Ehrlich

Abstract


All the political parties in Israel, apart from Arab and ultra-Orthodox, define themselves as Zionist. The right in Israel identifies itself strongly as Jewish either in a religious or ethno-nationalistic sense or, more amorphously, in terms of the ‘politics of belonging’. In today’s political parlance in Israel, ‘Judaism’ is not a religion but a political ideology, best termed ‘political Judaism’, which claims the powers of religion: veracity, certitude, absoluteness and the polarity of good versus evil. To be a Jew according to the right means firstly not to be an Arab. To be on the left is tantamount to being an Arab because people on the left support Arabs. The right aspires to Jewish supremacy in Israel and says so explicitly. To be a Jew is not only to fulfill the religious qualification of being born to a Jewish mother; Jewish belonging is now expressed in primordial, essentialist, mystical terms. The politics of identity, of political Judaism, adds a McCarthyist rancour and an exclusionary dimension of banishment from the community to political divisions. To belong now requires unqualified loyalty.

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