Israel Election: What's Behind the Rise of the Far Right? LISTEN

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Smotrich and Ben-Gvir at the Central Elections Committee in September.
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Haaretz Weekly

If one major story dominated Israel’s 2022 Knesset election, it was the surging popularity of the Religious Zionism Party. The party’s leaders Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, claim to have moderated their extremism, but their party platform reflects their racist, supremacist, homophobic, and theocratic views.

On this episode of Haaretz Weekly, which was recorded hours before Israelis went to the polls on Tuesday, Professor Jonathan Rynhold joins host Allison Kaplan Sommer to explain the reasons behind the rise of the party and why he holds Benjamin Netanyahu responsible for mainstreaming it.

Follow live coverage of Israel's political drama today on Haaretz.com.

In a wider context, Rynhold does not see believe that the surge in popularity of the far right in Israel means that the country is following behind the trend of strengthening right-wing populist and xenophobic parties in Europe or Christian nationalism and Trumpism in the United States. Instead, he says, “I think the rest of the world has become more like Israel.”

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