The public discourse over Israel’s unprecedented political crisis in 2019–2021 (four general elections in only two years) has focused on the personality and actions of one person: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Relying on a series of public opinion polls during Netanyahu’s second term (2009–2021), we examine the triadic relationship between the following components: (1) sentiments toward Netanyahu, (2) affiliation with ethno-class Jewish status groups, and (3) political attitudes along the liberal-conservative continuum. We show that while there are real socio-political divisions behind the controversy over Netanyahu, the conflict around his public image reflects and shapes the boundaries between various Jewish ethno-class status groups and enables alignments along these boundaries. The centrality of Netanyahu’s image in Israeli politics, we argue, substitutes substantive political discussions and has stemmed from the failure of some political actors, and especially the Secular Ashkenazi group, to articulate a coherent political vision.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science