While human rights have traditionally been seen mainly as a tool used by underprivileged or disadvantaged groups for progressive causes, they are increasingly being deployed, across the world, by conservative and illiberal civil society groups. Using the case study of the recent adoption of human rights discourse by some right-wing groups in Israel, and utilising social movements literature, this article seeks to analyse how and to what ends human rights are adopted by such actors. It develops an analytical classification of methods and aims of engagement with human rights by these groups, identifying three forms of engagement with the human rights field: entrysm: human rights as disguise for pro-state propaganda; mimicry: human rights as law-enforcement; and victimhood work: human rights as claiming underdog status. Using these tactics, actors from the Israeli right-wing camp have managed to add engagement with human rights to its ‘repertoire of contention’ in order to advance an array of interests, without, at least for now, modifying their ideological tenets.
- Right-wing actors
- social movements