Joel Beinin: Israel’s Elections Spell More of the Same for the Country, Only With an Even Uglier Face

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Joel Beinin. Photo courtesy of Joel Beinin

Israel is anticipating its “most right-wing government ever” after Benjamin Netanyahu took back power in last week’s Israeli elections. 

Joining host Robert Scheer on this week’s Scheer Intelligence to discuss Israel’s past and present is historian Joel Beinin. Beinin is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History, Emeritus at Stanford University. He has studied at top universities across the country including graduating from Princeton University, Harvard University and the University of Michigan. He has written a number of highly regarded books including “Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt,” “The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry,” and others.

Beinin dives into his unique look into Israel beginning with his first visit to the country as a young labor Zionist in sympathy with the Labor Party then securely in power. He lived and worked on a kibbutz but soon began questioning a fundamental assumption of the new state: “Israel has the law of return, which permits Jews to come back, to go to Israel, even if they have no historic connection to the place and to become citizens. And on the other hand, Palestinians who were expelled from the country when it was established, 750,000 of them or thereabouts, are not permitted to return. So, in that sense, there is no difference between the policies of the most far right Zionist and the far-left Zionist. They agree on Jewish supremacy,” Beinin said.

Despite the rise of an ultra-nationalist far right government in Israel, Beinin thinks and hopes that exposure of the country’s extremist identity should bring about a broader understanding of Zionism and its contradictions, especially to younger people. “According to a recent Pew survey, 25% of all American Jews think that Israel is an apartheid state, and the number goes up to 35% for Jews under 35. So, there's a young sector of the Jewish community who won't accept this and maybe it will be a small minority. Hopefully there's room for that minority to grow,” Beinin said.



Joshua Scheer