Beyond the pale? Avigdor Lieberman and demographic racism in Israel

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4 Scopus citations


The long-term shift of the Israeli public to the right has resulted in the ascendance of a host of radical right wing ideologies and political parties. Yisrael Beitenu party, led by Avigdor Lieberman, an émigré from the former USSR, has attracted special attention for its xenophobic and fierce anti- Palestinian racist platform on the one hand, and for its audience which is largely composed of new Russian immigrants on the other. Various explanations have been given for the ascendance of this party, such as the imperialist culture of its Russian audience, its populist messages which lure citizens - mostly new migrants - disillusioned with the liberal democratic system and the racism prevalent in Russian culture towards the Muslim peoples of central Asia. However, a careful review of the political attitudes of Yisrael Beitenu supporters reveals that their beliefs are not significantly different from those held by mainstream Israelis. Thus, instead of looking for explanations for the rise of Yisrael Beitenu exogenous to Israeli culture and society, this article traces these reasons to the colonial nature of Israeli society, where a schizophrenic culture has emerged in which existing reality is denied, and even condemned. The new immigrants, beside the syndrome of over-loyalty which they have, seem to misinterpret the colonial culture into which they arrived. They seem to adhere to the facts of life as they are without much obfuscation or vindication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-158
Number of pages16
JournalHoly Land Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies


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