The major political ideologies of the modern era have found expression in Israel, with one apparent exception: conservatism. This article analyses the problematic place of conservatism in Israeli politics and assesses the prospects for its emergence as a major force in the future. It argues that although conservative values have not been entirely absent from Israeli politics, no party can be defined as fundamentally conservative. In the past, the rise of conservatism was constrained by numerous factors, not least of which was the fact that Israeli political culture was grounded in a revolutionary ideology— Zionism. Even as Israel has passed into a less idealistic era characterized by greater ideological plasticity, the development of conservatism remains severely constrained by other factors including the fragmented nature of Israeli political culture and the endemic nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, the main problem for conservatism in Israel is not external, but internal, namely its cultural/intellectual weakness. This in turn is a symptom of the fact that Israeli political discourse is primarily oriented towards nationalism, while conservatism in the West is primarily orientated towards the problematic of modernity. Ethno-nationalism rather than conservatism is the common denominator on the Israeli right. Indeed, even self-avowed Israeli conservatives, who emerged only recently, are better defined as conservative-Zionist s rather than as conservatives per se, their nationalism being ontologically and normatively prior to their conservatism.
Jonathan Rynhold, 'In search of Israeli conservatism' Journal of Political Ideologies Vol. 7, no. 2 (2002), pp. 199–220