FROM SAFE HAVEN TO MESSIANIC REDEMPTION: THE ASCENDANCE OF RELIGIOUS-ZIONISM

  • Yoav Peled Tel Aviv University

Abstract

On June 13, 2021, Naftali Bennet was sworn in as Israel’s first ever Religious-Zionist Prime Minister. Although Bennet’s political party, Yamina (Rightward), currently has only seven seats in the Knesset (out of 120), and he heads a shaky coalition government, his election as Prime Minister symbolizes the progress made by Religious-Zionism towards achieving a hegemonic position in Israeli society. Historically, Religious-Zionism had been a junior partner in the historic bloc which sustained the hegemony of the Labor Zionist movement over the Zionist settlement project. However, the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 gave the younger generation of Religious-Zionism the opportunity to take over their own movement and aim, as they put it, to move from the back seat to the driver’s seat of Israeli society. Labor Zionism’s loss of the political initiative regarding the territories occupied in 1967 provided the opening for that move. Religious-Zionism encompasses a whole range of religious and nationalist outlooks, but its most influential and dynamic element is the activist-Messianic tendency associated with Gush Emunim. The core interest and value of this dominant tendency is the permanent incorporation of the West Bank under Israeli sovereignty.

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Published
2022-06-24