Neo-Zionism is a right-wing, nationalistic and religious ideology that appeared in Israel following the Six-Day War in 1967 and the capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Neo-Zionists consider these lands part of Israel and advocate their settlement by Israeli Jews. Some advocate the transfer of Arabs not only from these areas, but also from within the Green Line.

The term Post-Zionism entered Israeli discourse following the publishing of a book by Uri Ram in 1993.[1] In the same volume Gershom Shafir contrasted Post-Zionism with what he termed Neo-Zionism.[2] In a widely cited 1996 essay sociologist Uri Ram used the term Neo-Zionism to describe a political and religious ideology that developed in Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War.[3]: 18[4]: 67[5]: 218 Uri Ram used the term to act as a foil for Post-Zionism.[4]: 67 Use of the term is controversial. Ronit Lentin rejects the labels of Neo-Zionism and Post-Zionism, preferring to define herself as an anti-Zionist.[5]: 218-219 The term is associated with the New Historians.

Uri Ram considers it as an "exclusionary, nationalist, even racist, and antidemocratic political-cultural trend" in Israel[6] that evolved in parallel with, and in opposition to, the left-wing politics of Post-Zionism and Labor Zionism.

Post-Zionists have argued that Israel must choose between a Post-Zionist future and a Neo-Zionist future.[7] Today, Israeli opinion has come to view both "Post Zionism" and "Neo Zionism" as pejorative slogans.[8]:55


Uri Ram contends that Neo-Zionism is not a new phenomenon, instead arguing that it emerged from the Six-Day War in 1967 and the conquest of Jerusalem.[9]:121 Ram contends that Jerusalem is the symbolic capital of Neo-Zionism, while Post-Zionism is orientated around Tel Aviv.[8]:187 It rose with the anxiety following the near loss of the 1973 war,[10]:51 which, in the end, was won with heavy US support and tough Israeli fighters – namely, their advantage over the Arabs' tanks.[11]

Neo-Zionists consider "secular Zionism", particularly the labor version, as too weak on nationalism, and never understood the impossibility of Arabs and Jews living together in peace. Neo-Zionists claim that the Arab attitude to Israel is inherently rooted in anti-Semitism and that it is a Zionist illusion to think living in peace and together with them is possible. They consider Arabs in Israel to be a fifth column and to pose a demographic threat to the Jewish majority in Israel. From their point of view, the only solution for achieving peace is through "deterrence and retaliation" or preferably "transfer by agreement" of the Israeli Arabs and the Palestinian population of the occupied Palestinian Territories to neighboring Arab states.[12]

Uri Ram characterizes both Neo-Zionism and Post-Zionism as reactions to the post-nationalist environment.[13] For Neo-Zionism, "the weakness of Israeli Nationalism derives from his alienation of Jewish sources and culture (...). Only a new national-religious and orthodox coalition [could] cure Zionism of this moral bankruptcy".[12] Neo-Zionists consider all areas under Israeli military control to be part of "the biblical Land of Israel."[10]:57 Neo-Zionists assert that the goal of Jewish statehood is not only about creating a safe refuge for Jews but also about the national-historic destiny of the people of Israel in the land of Israel.

For Uri Ram, Neo-Zionism is a reinterpretation of Zionism that is religious rather than secular. Judaism, instead of being a peripheral cultural tradition, is a core element in his definition.[9]:121 In Ram's formulation, Post-Zionism is globalist and liberal, while Neo-Zionism is local and ethno-religious. Asima Ghazi-Bouillon challenges Ram's classification of Neo-Zionism as anti-globalist. He instead sees some strains of Neo-Zionism as globalist, similar to Neo-Conservatism and Neo-Nationalism.[9]:8 Whereas Post-Zionism was a largely unsuccessful direct challenge to Zionism, Neo-Zionism is instead a challenge to Labour Zionism.[9]:8 Asima Ghazi-Bouillon argues that Neo-Zionism is not entirely an ethno-religious movement but also incorporates a national security discourse.[9]:8–9

Ilan Pappé sees four currents which have contributed to Neo-Zionism’s rise: The conversion of the Haredim to Zionism; the settler movement combined with the state funding of Yeshivas; the culturally insular and economically deprived Mizrahi community; and finally the integration of Israel into the global capitalist system.[14]


Neo-Zionism ideology was promoted by the banned Kach and Kahane Chai or the Jewish Defense League.

Uri Ram uses the Movement for Greater Israel[10]:51–52 and the Gush Emunim settler movement founded in 1974 as examples of Neo-Zionism and its precursors, Gush Emunim being a hybrid of religion and nationalism.[9]:121[10]:51 Ram also labels parts of Likud and the National Religious Party, as well as other, smaller, splinter parties including Yisrael BaAliyah, Moledet, Tehiya and Tzomet as Neo-Zionist.[10]:57

In the media Neo-Zionism is associated with Arutz Sheva.[15] According to Yishai Fleisher, Arutz Sheva director of programming and founder of the Kumah neo-Zionist lobby, "Zionism is the yearning of the Jewish people to come back to the land of Israel with the creation of the Jewish commonwealth and the era of the third Temple. It's a renewal of lost values, and an answer to post-Zionism. If post-Zionism is the theory that Israel was created and the project is now finished, then neo-Zionism states that we are far from done with the project. The Jewish people are not yet back home, and we have yet to educate Jews to the concept of living a Torah life in the land of Israel".[16]

Some associations in Israel, such as Im Tirtzu, defend Neo-Zionist ideology. Ronen Shoval, founder of the association states that "We need every Jewish heart and Zionist soul. Coordinators and activists of Im Tirtzu are hereby called to the flag. (...) [W]e will turn the Hebrew University into a Zionist society, and continue the second Zionist revolution!" His aims are "to restore Zionism to the center - for poets to poetize Zionism, for the writers to write Zionism, for academia to support Zionism and for the Ari Folmans (...) to make films about our ethos. Just as there are movies about gladiators, we will have movies about Judah Maccabee. What's wrong with that?"[17]


According to Uri Ram, "Neo-Zionism (...) is an exclusionary, nationalist, even racist, and antidemocratic political-cultural trend, striving to heighten the fence encasing Israeli identity.";[6] a point of view also reported by Gilbert Achcar[18]

According to Dana Eyal, "[her] country is hijacked by a group of racist religious Jews, who are much more of a threat to Israel than any Arab or Muslim country, including Iran". She gives the example of children of illegal immigrants born and living in Israel for years and that neo-Zionist groups want to see expelled because their presence is un-Zionistic. She thinks that "[t]his very narrow definition of Zionism dictates that Israel is and will remain a racist Jewish state" but also "that in Israel itself there is a (lazy) majority that is far from this. Zionism for us equals patriotism much like it does to Americans; wanting the best for your country, believing in its principals and defending it when necessary. Only we don't believe in many of the neo-orthodox principals popping out like mushrooms in the rain. For that matter, we no longer feel very Zionistic in an environment that embraces totality and purity of race (a calamitous similarity to things that should not be named)".[19]

Further reading

Journalistic views about Neo-Zionism

Neo-Zionist authors

Neo-Zionist lobbies

See also


  1. Uri Ram (2010). Israeli Nationalism: Social Conflicts and the Politics of Knowledge. Routledge. p. 112.
  2. Ella Shohat (2006). Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices. Duke University Press. p. 382.
  3. Motti Regev, Edwin Seroussi (2004). Popular Music and National Culture in Israel. University of California Press.
  4. 1 2 Dan Leon (2004). Who's Left in Israel?: Radical Political Alternatives for the Future of Israel. Sussex Academic Press.
  5. 1 2 Ronit Lenṭin (2000). Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence. Berghahn Books.
  6. 1 2 Uri Ram "Historiosphical Foundations of the Historical Strife in Israel" in Israeli Historical Revisionism: from left to right, Anita Shapira, Derek Jonathan Penslar, Routledge, 2002, pp.57-58.
  7. Ephraim Nimni (2003). "The Challenge of Post-Zionism". borderlands e-journal: VOLUME 2 NUMBER 3. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  8. 1 2 Eran Kaplan (2015). Beyond Post-Zionism. SUNY Press.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ghazi-Bouillon, Asima (2009). Understanding the Middle East Peace Process: Israeli Academia and the Struggle for Identity. Routledge.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Uri Ram (2003). "Historiosophical Foundations of the Historical Strife in Israel". In Anita Shapira, Derek Jonathan Penslar. Israeli Historical Revisionism: From Left to Right. Psychology Press.
  11., The Yom Kippur Warl
  12. 1 2 Uri Ram, The Future of the Past in Israel - A Sociology of Knowledge Approach, in Benny Morris, Making Israel, pp.210-211.
  13. Uri Ram (2013). The Globalization of Israel: McWorld in Tel Aviv, Jihad in Jerusalem. Routledge. p. 234.
  14. Virginia Tilley (2004). The One-state Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock. Manchester University Press. p. 155.
  15. We Need To Put The Spirit Back Into The People: An Interview with Arutz Sheva's Yishai Fleisher, The Jewish Press, February 2010.
  16. Kobi Ben-Simhon, Neo-Zionism 101, Haaretz, June 5, 2009 (Internet archive)
  17. Gilbert Achcar (2010). The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. Macmillan. p. 185.
  18. Dana Agmon, Neo-Zionism -- Israel's True Threat, Huffington Post, October 12, 2010.
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