Skip to main content

Israel Looks Inward

The results of the Israeli election were all about nation building, and not peacemaking, writes Einat Wilf.
Israel's President Shimon Peres (C, seated) sits between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L, seated) and Labour party lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (R, seated) as party leaders of the 19th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, pose for a group photo at a reception following their swearing-in ceremony in Jerusalem February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3DE0A
Read in 

To be an Israeli who interacts with the world is to experience all too frequently the extent to which Israelis and their choices are misinterpreted and misperceived. Three weeks ago when Israelis went to the polls, Israel-watchers the world over wondered what the elections and their outcomes would mean for peace. Many expressed fear of an Israeli lunge to the right, and were relieved by what seemed to be a return to the center. Yet for most Israelis, this interpretation could not have been more wrong.

The Israeli elections were not about peace, and had very little to say on the matter. When the world was asking whether Israelis have swung to the right or the left or even the center, Israelis were thinking in very different terms. No longer right or left, but rather inward or outward — and their response was a resounding “inward.” To borrow the American term, Israelis have chosen to focus on “nation building at home.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.