The Israeli Right: Prologue

It is the misfortune of the Israeli right that its story has largely been told by journalists and historians unsympathetic and sometimes downright hostile to its members and goals. It’s not that everything they say is false — it’s that their descriptions of a monolithic, quasi-fascist bunch of boors is grossly inaccurate. It misses a lot of nuances and details that would make the right’s story not only more complicated, but more interesting.

Historians — including one prominent left-wing historian, Yehiam Weitz — have slowly started to change this picture in Israel. However, as far as I know there is no easily readable summary of history of the Israeli right in English. Hence this series.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind from when the first chapter comes up:

This is a brief summary

In the age of tl;dr, I’m aware I can’t cover all the details and keep your attention for a subject that is covered by several books. Consider this a taste, not the whole meal. If I succeed in making you ask more questions, increase your study, or even disagree — I will consider my job done.

The series is scholarship-based

Although there won’t be footnotes or 50 pages worth of sources, this series is based on several years of reading serious Hebrew-language scholarship on the subject. Yes, if you want to be an “Israel expert,” you need to know Hebrew. Each section will contain a Further Reading section at the bottom for, well, further reading.

Let go of your (American) prejudices

A big part of the problem Americans have a problem: they see the world through an American lens and try to understand other countries’ problems through the prism of their own. Drop it. Now.

All Israeli parties — left, right, and center — have their roots in continental Europe and Jewish life there. The story is worthy of its own Medium essay, but suffice to say we have more in common politically with say, Poland, than New York or California.

Coming events

This is how the chapter structure will work, so you know what to expect. Each chapter is projected to come out every Monday.

Ch. 1. ‘Let us live in this country’: The bourgeois right

Ch. 2. A taste for the theatrical: The revisionists

Ch. 3. A city on a hill: The religious right

Ch. 4. Natural born patriots: The broad center-right

Ch. 5. The oppositionists

Looking forward.

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