The Rise of the Israeli Right: From Odessa to Hebron
by Colin Shindler
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 411 pp. $94.99 ($34.99, paper).
Reviewed by Moshe Dann
Middle East Quarterly
For readers looking for an explanation for the "rise of the Israeli Right," Shindler's book is a major disappointment: Only the last thirty pages of the work concern contemporary events, and superficially at that.
Instead, Shindler, emeritus professor at the University of London, devotes most of the book to earlier ideologists, especially Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, even though recent biographies of these leaders—Shmuel Katz and Hillel Halkin of Jabotinsky and Daniel Gordis of Begin—render Shindler's rehashing superfluous.
More problematic, Shindler fails to provide an understanding of why the Right has become a dominant political factor. The role of issues and actors that play a part in forming Israeli public opinion, such as "collectivism of the kibbutz," "Labor's anti-religious ethos and patronising attitude," and "Mizrachi voters" are only mentioned in passing. Nowhere does he raise the issue of Palestinian rejectionism, terrorism, and incitement and its effects on Israel's citizenry. Hamas bombings are noted in passing and Hezbollah not at all.
Instead, the author focuses on the so-called settlements, which for him represent "the emergence of redemptionist Zionism" dominated by messianism. He states that "polls regularly indicate that a majority of Israelis did not ideologically agree with the settlers and wished for a way out of the quagmire." Why rely on polls and ignore the results of elections, which show strong support for Jewish communities in the West Bank? The disengagement from Gaza and the resultant birth of a missile-firing, tunnel-burrowing Hamas has left most Israelis with little appetite for further risk-taking with their security.
The reason for the rise of the Right in Israel is simple: Most people do not trust the Left because they find its policies inadequate.
 Lone Wolf: A Biography of Vladimir (Ze'Ev) Jabotinsky, vol. 1 and 2 (Fort Lee, N.J: Barricade Books, 1996).
 Jabotinsky: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014).
 Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel's Soul (New York: Schocken, 2014).
Related Topics: Israel & Zionism | Moshe Dann | Winter 2016 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.