On Tuesday 12 March, the Arab Centre for Applied Social Research (MADA Al-Carmel) in Israel launched its inaugural Israel Studies Programme specialising in the study of Israeli society and politics. It was launched during a symposium entitled "Readings of the 2013 Israeli parliamentary elections" and "was created to fill a gap in the study of Israel on a Palestinian, Arab, and global level, and even on an Israeli level."
The programme aims to provide a different conception of Israel that requires an intellectual positioning totally outside the Zionist framework, and to regard Zionism as a settler-colonial project which must essentially be understood in order to understand the nature of Israeli society, politics, and social processes.
Some of the conclusions from the first half of the symposium included the assertion that results of the recent Israeli elections continue to blur the lines that separate between the left, centre and right in Israel resulting in an inability to theoretically analyse its political scene and voting patterns. Projections concerning the impact of the recent elections on peace negotiations were also explored. It was asserted that election results reflect deep transformations in Israeli society and the return of the old Ashkenazi elites to power; despite proposals put forward by new political ideologies that combine economic, neoliberal, and political extremism in an attempt to redefine the greater good for the Jewish population.
The second session of the symposium discussed interpretations of the Arab voter based on analyses of a public opinion poll from the last elections. This analysis found that the vote of Arabs for Arab parties combine a number of theoretical approaches, and pour into protest voting. It was also explained as being based on feelings of fear and projections from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The question of the negative influence local Arab media and journalism had on voting patterns was also discussed.
For more on the content of the speeches, visit the Israel Studies Programme page on the Mada al-Carmel website: