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Israel: Dedemocratization by Stealth


The past twenty years or so have seen a rise of populism throughout the world, with attacks on basic rights and freedoms: political leaders readily lash out against opposition forces that dare resist them, accusing them of being traitors to the nation. Israel has gone down a similar path since 2009. That year, Benyamin Netanyahu was re-elected with support from the far right. Over those twelve years, democracy would be under a continual and often brutal onslaught. Without challenging the principle of free elections, the coalition of rightwing and far-right parties has been working to silence voices that oppose its policies or that criticize human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories. Human rights organizations are constantly under attack. Ad-hoc legislation is used increasingly to reassert the preeminence of the Jewish character of the state to the detriment of its democratic dimension. The Supreme Court itself has also been under fire. What triggered this drift in 2009? How far has it gone? Can Benyamin Netanyahu be compared to Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orban, or to Donald Trump, to name just two examples of “populist” leaders? Lastly, does Benyamin Netanyahu’s forced ouster in June 2021 mean an end to the antiliberal offensive of the past twelve years?
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hal-03605799 , version 1 (11-03-2022)



Samy Cohen. Israel: Dedemocratization by Stealth. Contemporary Populists in Power, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.153-169, 2022, The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy, 978-3-030-84078-5. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-84079-2_9⟩. ⟨hal-03605799⟩
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