The Splintered Camp: Religious Zionist Parties in the 2009 Elections
WithAsher Cohen
Pages 24

The lively internal debate in the religious Zionist camp, with its recurring calls for political unification, has become a familiar refrain not only during election campaigns but between them as well. The set of terms that includes "religious extremism," "political extremism," "radical messianism," "fundamentalism," "undermining the rule of law," "potential insubordination," and most damning of all, "violence," becomes an interpretive framework through which religious Zionism and its inherent dangers are portrayed and explained to the greater public. The political schism in the religious Zionist movement stems from a number of phenomena that developed over the course of the past generation: the ethnic rift; the cultural-religious divide; and the differences within the hawkish camp in terms of ideological motivations, flexibility, and emphasis on right-wing positions as compared with other issues such as education. Religious Zionism, which experienced a host of changes in virtually every election in the past decade, continued this pattern in 2009 as well.