Ultra-orthodox Jews protest against shops selling leavened bread during Passover in violation of Jewish religious law, during a demonstration in Jerusalem, April 22, 2008.
"The Changing Face of Israel"
Magazine or Newspaper Article, Foreign Policy
As minority groups swell in numbers, the country's political makeup is destined for a shift, too.
"With U.S. President Barack Obama seemingly determined to push for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu equally adamant that he lacks a real partner for peace, the United States and Israel seem destined for a clash. But there are larger forces at work than the policies of either government. The face of Israel is changing, and in ways that explain much of what is happening in the Jewish state today.
Take Avigdor Lieberman, whose rising political star befuddles much of the Israeli establishment. Despite being perennially poised on the verge of multiple indictments for financial crimes, tagged as an Arab-loathing ultra nationalist by the Israeli media, and attacked from both sides of the political spectrum as the Jewish state's very own public diplomacy nightmare, the new foreign minister's voter appeal has climbed steadily. And the popularity of his right-wing party, Yisrael Beytenu ("Israel Our Home") has grown as well, even among young, secular Israeli-born Jews. Why?
Many have offered explanations for Lieberman and Yisrael Beytenu's rise, from rocket attacks to a religious revival, but one key factor has been overlooked thus far: They have demographics firmly on their side. The party's platform taps into the fears of the country's demographically ebbing secular middle ground and feeds off of working Israelis' frustrations with the country's two most dissonant minorities — Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews (haredim) — both of which are on the demographic upswing...."
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