Michael Koplow counters Dan Ephron’s assertion that Israel may be facing a permanent hard-right majority. Koplow argues that Ephron is conflating the groups that make up the Israeli right:

[T]hrowing Likud’s politics in together with Haredi politics and pretending that it all stems from the same rightwing ideology is inaccurate. Both segments are conservative and ideological in their own way, but their conservatism and ideology are not shared. Likud is economically conservative and extremely devoted to the settler cause, and if any party has an ideology based on settling the entire land of Greater Israel, Likud is it.

There is, of course, the inconvenient fact that Likud leaders are not themselves religious, including Likud founder Menachem Begin and current Likud prime minister Bibi Netanyahu, but certainly a sizable percentage of Likud voters are Orthodox (but not Haredi). Haredi parties are ideological and conservative as well, but their conservatism is social rather than economic – not surprising given how many Haredim survive on state largesse – and their ideology is one of fealty to Torah and Jewish law as a way of structuring daily life, rather than anything surrounding settling or holding onto the land. Likud is rightwing, and Shas and UTJ are rightwing, but they are rightwingers in the same way the Club for Growth and the Christian Coalition are rightwing – they inhabit the same general political universe but for vastly different reasons.

It is true that the Orthodox and the ultra-Orthodox both lean heavily to the right, but that is about the only part of Ephron’s analysis that isn’t stunningly ill-informed. Just because both groups have the word “Orthodox” in their names does not mean that they share the same core motivations. The Israeli right may be growing stronger, but that doesn’t mean that Haredi parties wouldn’t shift their allegiance to the left if they were promised a better deal on subsidies and control of Israel’s religious institutions.

I have to say I find this nit-picking. Of course, different members of a coalition have slightly different agendas and emphases. What unites them is the cause of Greater Israel – and the construction of that state – requiring segregated bantustans for those of another race and religion – continues apace. If Obama doesn’t win re-election, we know that the two-state solution is over. Four more years of occupation and a Judeo-Christian war against Shiite Islam will mean a more brutal occupation and a further degeneration of Israel’s security and integrity as a democratic country.