The Jewish ethnic divide and ethnic politics in Israel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Ethnic differences are commonly reflected in governing elites, public policies, political parties, voting, and intergroup conflicts. This is true of Jews in Israel despite the strong assimilationist ideology and lack of legitimacy of ethnicity and ethnic politics. Notwithstanding increasing assimilation, decreasing ethnic inequalities, and diminishing discrimination, Jews in Israel are still markedly divided by ethnicity, social class, religious observance, subculture, geographic concentration, and collective memory. The political divide between the Right and the Center-Left is grounded in both class and ethnicity. The bases of the right-wing parties are non-dominant and low-socioeconomic-status Jews, Mizrahim, Russian immigrants, the National Religious, the ultra-Orthodox, and offspring of the Revisionists, who are more nationalistic and less liberal than the economically better off and Ashkenazi supporters of the Center-Left. The political Right represents its supporters’ illiberal views well and grants them a feeling of being at home in Israel and some preferential treatment as Jews. The demographic predominance of its supporters gives the Right a lead in vying for power, makes Israel more Jewish than democratic, and reduces the chances of peacemaking with the Palestinians.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780190675585
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2021.


  • Ashkenazim
  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnic politics
  • Ethnicity
  • Israel
  • Israeli politics
  • Israeli-palestinian conflict
  • Mizrahim
  • Political right
  • Rational choice
  • Russian immigrants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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