The Major Narratives Shaping Israeli Politics
It's crucial to understand Israeli voters if you truly want to understand Israeli politics.
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Last week, I told you about some of the politicians who have shaped the existing Israeli political landscape, but what about the voters who elect them?
Israel has one of the higher voter turnout rates among democratic countries, so it’s crucial to understand Israeli voters if you truly want to understand Israeli politics.
Whereas many tend to paint a simplified picture of right versus left, the reality is that Israel has more than 20 political parties, so there’s a myriad of nuance and depth that gets lost when we oversimplify.
Each party creates its own narrative to attract voters, wrapped around a variety of circumstances, including obvious ones like religious magnitude (or lack thereof) and socioeconomic standing, as well as ethnic backgrounds, how many generations a voter’s family has been living in Israel, and in which part of the country they live.
There are seven major narratives which ultimately determine why Israeli voters cast their ballot for certain political parties.
Narratives are artifacts of a special kind, intentionally crafted devices which fulfill their storytelling function by manifesting the intentions of their base. Such devices offer varying points of view, including ironic points of view.1
For example, on the far right, heavily religious Israelis are often the most critical of non-religious (but still Jewish) Israelis, despite the Jewish commandment to love one’s fellow Jew.
And, on the far left, heavily secular Israelis want to rid the country of its Jewish character and make it a free-for-all democracy. This would likely see Jews become a minority in a few generations, replaced by an Arab majority who, once democratically voted into power, would probably shelve the aforementioned democracy, since no Arab state past or present has shown a true and persistent appetite for the type of socialist-democratic governance that heavily secular Israelis crave.
Now, let’s take a look at each of the seven camp’s narratives, from the farthest right of the political spectrum, to the extreme left: