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date: 25 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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 social class, religious observance, subculture, geographic concentration, and collective memory. The political divide between the Right and the Left-Center is grounded in both class and ethnicity. The bases of the right-wing parties are non-dominant and low-socioeconomic-status Jews, including Mizrahim, Russian immigrants, the National Religious, and the ultra-Orthodox, who are more nationalistic and less liberal than the economically better off supporters of the Left-Center. 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.

Keywords: ethnicity, political Right, rational choice, ethnic identity, Mizrahim, Ashkenazim, Russian immigrants, Israeli politics, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel

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