Political history of Israel

Anita Shapira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses the internal political development of the Jewish community in Palestine and, after 1948, of the State of Israel. The rise of popular politics in the early 1930s culminated in the hegemony of the Left, which was the predominant power in Israeli politics from 1933 until 1977. The predominant leader was David Ben Gurion, who retired in 1963. The Left was mostly pragmatic, with a social democratic agenda that emphasized the role of the state in the economy and culture, promoting a narrative that glorified the predominance of the Left in nation- and state-building. In 1977 there was a change of direction: the right-wing opposition won the elections. The government now moved toward a free enterprise economy and a new narrative, which emphasized the question of Greater Israel as the focal point of government and state interest. The clash between Left and Right in Israel was no longer centered on questions of economy and society but rather on external policy. Growing polarization between Left and Right, Ashkenazi Jews and Mizrahim (Middle Eastern Jews), Orthodox and secular, and Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews has typified Israel politics in the last two decades.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780190675585
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Ashkenazim
  • Israeli arabs
  • Mizrahim
  • Narrative
  • Revisionist movement
  • Social democratic agenda
  • State-building
  • Ultra-orthodox


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