Published February 20, 2023
The U.S.-Israeli relationship is getting testy. In recent weeks, the Biden administration and the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reportedly clashed on a number of issues, from Netanyahu’s plans to overhaul the nation’s judicial system to his efforts to expand settlements in the West Bank.
But the strained relationship is about more than just policy disagreements; it is an unavoidable ideological rift between U.S. Democrats and the increasingly conservative Israeli nation that will fundamentally alter the decades-long alliance.
Israel started out dominated by secular, Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Western Europe. They were largely left-leaning, so for decades after gaining its independence in 1948, the country was ruled by the social democratic Labor Party in coalition with other, smaller leftist parties.
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Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.