Israeli Affairs (Issue no. 69)

The Intellectual Roots of the Zionist Right Wing

  • Author: Raed Dahbour,David Ohana,Tom Pesseh,Mohannad Moustafa,Nabih Bashir,Avi Shilon,Weaam Baloum,Suhair Dawoud,Nurit Peled Elhanan,Ali Haydar
  • Translator: Yasin El Sayed, Wadih Awada, Mohamed Kayal
  • Editor: Raif Zureik, Nabil al-Saleh, Honaida Ghanem
  • Number of Pages: 138
  • ISBN: 978-9950-03-031-8
  • Price: $0.00

The theme of this issue has its focus on the intellectual roots of the Zionist right wing. In a settler community, the idea of separation between the right and left wing parties was, and is still, grounded in the acquisition of the homeland of another people. This idea is not impliedly perceived, however. A logically tempting argument views the enterprise  settler Zionist enterprise  as a right wing one in its entirety, from the very beginning to the very end. This is an enterprise that culminates in control, expulsion, occupation, and racial supremacy.

To look into the common grounds between the Zionist right and left wing parties is both important and necessary. Still equally important, differences should also been considered. These may not lie in intentions, but in proclaimed political programmes. The difference between Zionist right and left wing parties can be approached from several entry points.

Regarding the political geography of the Zionist project, the first entry point investigates the boundaries, within which the enterprise is built: Palestine in whole or in part, or Palestine and east of Palestine. Accordingly, the difference between the Zionist right and left wing parties can be traced by a review of their different positions towards the partition projects, starting with the Peel Commission, through the Partition Plan, Security Council Resolution 242, and ending with the Oslo Process.

Another entry point addresses how the Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous population, are dealt with. Is the right to establish the state and enforce sovereignty, which Zionism claims, exclusive to the Jews only? Is it a right for both the Jews and Arabs, from their perspective?

A third entry point concerns the use of violence and the role it plays in the conflict. Represented by the Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionism, the right wing has believed from the outset that violence is irreplaceable. It is a constituent and essential part of Revisionist Zionism. This perception was later embraced by Ben-Gurion, despite the fact that he presented it as a necessary evil. On the other hand, other groups, including Brit Shalom and Martin and Popper, were inclined to promote the need to reach understandings with the Arabs and Palestinians.

The way which different parties adopt to present their right to Palestine is a fourth entry point. Some parties introduce this issue as an expression of a pressing need following persecution of the Jewish people in the 20th century. Accordingly, Palestine is first and foremost an asylum and a shelter. By contrast, others are of the view that Palestine is the Land of Israel, a property of the People of Israel  Jewish people. From this perspective, an ancient right is fulfilled based on the principles of collective ownership. Palestinians are just invaders or guests in this country.

A fifth entry point explores the way religion is employed in the intellectual political structure. This does not mean that the right wing has necessarily used religion whilst the left wing did not. It concerns the different methods of such utilisation over years.
The last entry point relates to the distribution of wealth and resources within the state, social rights, environment, and public health.

All these components are neither exclusive to Israel, nor to the Zionist movement. They are distinctive features of the right and left wing parties in general, and settler communities in particular. Hence, in this issue, some papers contemplate these inquiries in their historical context, both European and international. Israel’s right wing is also placed in other regional and international contexts, including the new US right wing of the Trump government and the rising European right wing. This perspective allows the viewer and observer to position the Zionist right wing in a comparative historical and geographical context. While it does not neglect the minute details of each case, this is what this issue seeks to achieve.

Friday, October 22, 2021


The Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) is an independent research centre specialising in Israeli affairs, based in Ramallah, Palestine. MADAR was established in 2000 by a group of Palestinian intellectuals and academics, including the late poet Mahmoud Darwish, Dr. Lily Feidy, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, Dr. Ahmad Harb, Mr. Walid Al-Ahmad and Mr. Akram Haniyyeh. The centre was registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, and obtained a research centre’s operational licensing from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.