Israel Has its Most Right-Wing Government in its History—Here’s Why You Should Care

Ted Eytan


Israel ended 2022 by electing the most right-wing government in the country’s history, with former-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu forming a coalition government of right-wing factions to set the stage for his sixth term as Israel’s prime minister. Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving PM, having served briefly in the 90s and again from 2009 to 2021 when he was ousted amid corruption lawsuits by a center-left coalition united in opposition to Netanyahu and his Likud Party. However, despite continuing corruption charges, which Netanyahu claims are part of a “witch hunt,”, he and the Likud took the parliament alongside far-right nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, including the Jewish Power Party, the Religious Zionism party, and the Shas party.
The decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict last gained significant international attention when videos and news went viral of Palestinian citizens in the town of Sheikh Jarrah getting evicted. For the first time in my memory, there was a small waver in the United States’ unwavering support for Israel, both politically and culturally. Israel has long been touted by politicians in the U.S. as a “beacon of democracy in the Middle East,” but within the last half-decade, progressive movements from the Democratic Party’s most left-leaning members—mostly in the House but including Independent Senator Bernie Sanders—have broken Washington’s uniform and unassailable support. Progressive factions of the Democratic Party, including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have led a growing number of progressives in focusing pressure on Israel’s human rights abuses.
Such growing support is emphasized by the 20-point increase in support among Democrats for compromise between Israel and Palestine between 2008 to 2021, according to a Gallup poll from that year. But ultimately, what has that gotten us? President Joe Biden remains stubbornly on the side of Israel, and Congress continues to set aside money from defense spending for Israel. At the end of 2022, for example, a $1.7 trillion defense cooperation package primarily going towards Ukraine aid also included $3.8 billion of Israel military aid. Biden also included about $300 million in humanitarian aid to Palestinians—less than 8 percent of the funding he sent to Israel. Earlier in 2022, Congress passed what the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the largest pro-Israel lobbying groups, called the “largest-ever funding package to Israel.” Realistically, the 2021 jolt of critical examination of Israel was never going to create change. Israel has been the U.S.’s largest military partner since its inception as a nation in 1948; their cooperation is a triangle of moneyed interests—the U.S. uses Israel’s neighborhood as a testing ground for military equipment, while arms and aircraft manufacturers like Lockheed and Boeing get massive payouts. American politicians across the political spectrum, receive funding from pro-Israel lobbying groups, and Israel gets the funding necessary to continue feigning democracy while gradually settling Palestinian land.
If never before, Israel’s conduct and future plans should be a main area of concern now; the conflict with Palestine is no longer the sole pressing issue facing Israel. While it is true that the new government will prove one of the greatest sources of Palestinian oppression since the country’s conception, Jewish fundamentalism, trans- and homo- phobia, and anti-democratic shifts have also come under scrutiny, deservedly. Already, barely a month since the new government has taken over, wide protests have arisen in response to judicial changes which weaken the power of Israel’s Supreme Court, giving the legislative majority the ability to overturn court decisions and appoint judges.
Nonetheless, if the Israeli people’s fear for their democracy is significant, the Palestinian plight is even more so. An Israeli Defense Force (IDF) raid on the Jenin refugee camp last week killed ten Palestinians, including a child and an elderly woman, and drew international attention, but the IDF murders have been on the rise generally since the right-wing government took power; in fact, as of January 26, there have been at least 29 Palestinians killed including five children in 2023. That’s more than one death every day so far this year.
There is a chronic misunderstanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the US due to normalized Islamophobic sentiments and misleading phraseology surrounding the issue resulting in complacency and denial of Palestinian suffering. The United States from the political aristocracy down has long had a broken understanding of Palestine’s occupation, framing Palestinian attacks on Israel as “terrorist attacks” and Israeli missile strikes and military occupation and brutality as “conflict.” To be sure, attacks from either side are not condonable, especially those against civilians; however, the failure is not in calling out violence but in pointing the finger at Palestine. Doing so is comparable to saying the Native Americans who attacked European settlers were the ones who initiated conflict, rather than the Europeans who were making grabs at Indigenous land and killing and enslaving them en masse. Israel’s project in West Asia is another instance of settler colonialism and genocide over a black and/or brown population and should be approached as such. Why is it that Ukraine, a white, liberal country, gets massive amounts of aid internationally when a country claims its land, opposing international law, but indigenous groups and Palestinians are labeled as the aggressor when they resist oppression?
Without answering this question and making this distinction, there will be no conflict solution, and the rising tensions which are happening now will be part of a cycle of relative peace followed by heightened violence—just as it has been for decades; alternatively, Israel could squash Palestinian resistance efforts beyond any significant resistance. By calling out and holding accountable the country, Israel, for its actions, there is still a pathway towards a solution and broader recognition of morally indefensible actions.

This is the second opinion about Israel I have written at the Advocate. You can find that article here. I also urge reading further into the issue; this and/or this article are good places to start.