With another Israeli election approaching in November, recent polling confirms that a growing minority of Ḥaredim are inclined to cast their votes for non-ḥaredi parties. For the most part, this means voting for parties on the political right, especially those associated with Religious Zionists—i.e., non-ḥaredi Orthodox Jews. Efrat Finkel seeks to explain why:
The wandering of votes rightward points to more and more Ḥaredim preferring to identify with “Israeliness” in its rightwing version than sectorial “ḥarediness.” However, contrary to conventional wisdom pegging the ḥaredi rightward tilt to internal ḥaredi processes, I will argue that the right has moved to bring the Ḥaredim closer and increase its identification with them. The ḥaredi rightwing shift is [thus] a consequence of a “Ḥaredization” process that the right has undergone in recent years, much more than an Israelization of the Ḥaredim.
Influenced by these two simultaneous processes, a growing segment of younger Ḥaredim have been increasingly disillusioned with the traditional approach of their political leaders, which is to support whichever major party can offer them more on their core communal issues: funding for schools, avoidance of military service, control of the rabbinate.
Ḥaredi parties have, over time, accumulated the reputation of being “fixers”—promoting politics without values, focused on interests alone, and ready to make every shady deal to achieve them. Ḥaredi MKs are viewed as traditional activists (“makhers”), contrary to the value-based agendas on which other MKs pride themselves. Personally, I think the work of ḥaredi MKs is far broader than [this critique allows, however].
Yet, I believe that in the ḥaredi mindset, voting remains primarily an expression of identity and belonging. This remains true even when the ḥaredi individual no longer casts his vote in favor of a ḥaredi political party—only that the rightwing parties he votes for provide an alternative identity focal point. Thanks to the right moving closer to the Ḥaredim, he feels he can remain devoutly ḥaredi while also being part of the greater Israeli story.