To what extent is the Jewish State truly polarized in light of the success of the centrist Kadima party in the 2006 Israeli Knesset elections. Might the conception of Israel as a ‘deeply divided society’ no longer hold true, in light of a victory of a centrist party that included on its list members from both the right and the left? What is the essence of this centrism that is emerging in Israeli society? Is the old consensus, that existed before the emergence of the great divide over the Territories, returning or are we witnessing the surfacing of a new centrism? It is argued here that the prior focus on change and polarization in Israeli politics led to an under appreciation of the stable consensual elements underlying the Israeli body politic. Behind the ability of Israeli democracy to manage such a high degree of domestic political conflict lay the continued existence of an implicit political centre—a core consensus. In the twenty-first century this core has become increasingly explicit. It is termed here Neo-Centrism because while it retains some of the core element of the old centre, it has simultaneously incorporated new elements derived from the liberalization processes taking place in the Western world. The existence of a strong centre, which in 2006 gave most of its vote to Kadima and some to mid-size parties like the Pensioners, moderated the traditional cleavages in Israeli society. The emergence of Neo-Centrism softened those dichotomies which had been reinforced by the territorial issue and which formed a cloud over Israeli politics in recent decades. Among those divides, the Jewish – Arab cleavage, which had been reinforced by the rise of religion, has maintained its strength, proving to be the most resilient.

Jonathan Rynhold and Shmuel Sandler, 'From Centrism to Neo-Centrism' Israel Affairs 13:2, 2007, 229-250

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The Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish people studies the entire range of topics relevant to the identity of Israel as a Jewish state and to expressions of that identity. Within that framework, the Center focuses on two major clusters of interest.

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