Fri. Apr 19th, 2019

The Israeli society, very fragmented before the elections on Tuesday

The Israeli society, very fragmented before the elections on Tuesday



The society that will attend the Israeli elections next Tuesday is strongly fragmented by political, religious and ethnic disputes. More and less religious Jews, settlers and Arabs are just some of the many groups whose interests are at stake.

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Throughout history, Israelis have been traversed by disagreements that have divided their population and created a growing gap between different social groups. This choice is made within the framework of a society that is leaning more and more to the right of the political spectrum, but which is far from being uniform.

The main group of voters are the Jews, who represent around three quarters of the population. Its internal divisions, however, force to break down the ethnic majority of the state, which is not only divided by levels of religiosity but by deep ideological differences.

The most secular, comprising about a third of citizens, are divided mainly between left, center and right, with economy, security and separation of religion and status among the most important elements when deciding their vote.

Beni Gantz, the only candidate capable of dethroning current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has found greater support in this segment of the population than in more religious sectors, in part because of his alliance with the experienced journalist Yair Lapid, who has been advocating for a state for years. where religion has less weight.

Within religious Jewish groups, there are also fragmentations, with ultra-Orthodox and religious Zionists as the most prominent voter collectives.

The ultra-Orthodox historically characterized themselves by following the orders of their rabbis when voting. The two parties that will represent them in this election are Shas (composed of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa) and United Torah Judaism (of Jews of European origin).

However, contrary to the historical trend, increasing percentages of ultra-Orthodox voters seem slowly to move away from traditional parties.

"It is part of a process in which they are inserted little by little into spheres of Israeli society," public opinion expert Dahlia Scheindlin told Efe, adding: "More and more ultra-Orthodox are joining the Army, integrating into the labor market and receiving higher education, and this has an impact when it comes to voting. "

Religious Zionists, who tend to vote for the parties to the right of the political spectrum, are also divided in the face of a choice that presents them with very different alternatives. One of the best examples of this fragmentation can be found in the religious Zionists residing in the Israeli colonies in the occupied West Bank, where they are the majority.

"The divisions between the right-wing parties are hindering the vote of the settlers," says Dr. Sarah Hirschhorn, a professor at Northwestern University and an Israeli settlements specialist.

"There are those who will strategically vote for Netanyahu's Likud to strengthen a potential right coalition, while others will prioritize the ideological and vote for parties that better represent their interests," he adds, referring to more religious parties or more to the right in the political spectrum. , like New Right, Zehut, and the most extreme Union of Right Parties.

The other major group that will have an important influence in this election according to the experts will be the Arab minority living in Israel, which makes up around 20% of the population.

This influence, however, is not expected to be through a significant flow of votes for the Arab parties (Hadash-Tal and Ram-Balad), but, on the contrary, as a result of a boycott promoted by Arab movements to curb go to the polls to protest their discrimination. Experts estimate that up to 50% of Israeli Arabs may not participate.

"The boycott is due, in the first place, to the strengthening of the Israeli right, which directs the state towards an apartheid system, and makes the Arabs feel that their vote has no value and that the boycott is the only way to resist" explains Dalia Halabi, university professor and Arab social activist.

"On the other hand, the fragmentation of the Arab parties, which were previously united and now split, generated much disappointment and a sense of lack of representation on the part of the voters," he added.

These are just some of the multiple social groups that will star on Tuesday an election that will decide the continuity of Netanyahu at the head of the Government or his replacement by a centrist coalition led by Gantz.

Other relevant segments of the population are the Druze, Bedouin and Jewish immigrants from specific countries such as those who came from the former Soviet Union, who in many cases also vote relatively uniformly.

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