Gabriel Abensour


In the media, in the right-wing parties, and in some public discourse, there appears to be a clear identification between the Masorti public and the Israeli right in general, and between the Masortim and the Likud party (and its allies) in particular. Based on a March 2021 comprehensive National Israel Election Studies survey, administered to a sample of 1,816 interviewees, the picture is more complex. According to the survey, 47% of the Masorti-not-so-religious voted for Likud, and this share increases to 55% among the Masorti-religious. That is, half of Israel’s Masorti public indeed voted Likud. However, half of this public did not vote Likud, nor did it necessarily vote for one of Likud’s allies (the “right-wing bloc”). Thus, 39% of the Masorti-not-so-religious and 22% of the Masorti-religious voted for the Blue and White party (which then represented the camp opposed to the formation of a government by Benjamin Netanyahu, and which had also united with the Yesh Atid party). Among all Likud voters, the dominant group was the secular (34% of the votes), followed by the Masorti-not-so-religious (30%), and the Masorti-religious (18%).17

What can we learn from the Masorti overrepresentation among Likud voters? A common explanation, but one lacking scholarly support, is that ethnic background plays a dramatic role in voting patterns, due to the historical Mizrahi grudge against the parties identified with Mapai, the democratic socialist party that dominated Israeli politics until its merger with the Labor Party in 1968. We need only review the data presented above to realize that ethnicity cannot be the sole significant factor affecting voting patterns, as there is a striking disparity within the Masorti public on the basis of religiosity level. A significant share of not-so-religious Masortim also vote for the center-left parties, while the share drops to only 22% among the Masorti-religious. In a study published in 2022, Momi Dahan proved that although there is an ethnic gap in Israeli voting patterns, it completely disappears when differences in education and religiosity levels are neutralized.18 In other words, among groups belonging to the same socioeconomic strata, there is no difference in voting patterns between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim.

As we saw in the first section, there is still a socioeconomic gap between Masortim and National-Religious and secular Jews, with lower education levels among the Masortim. The Masorti overrepresentation among Likud voters may therefore be attributed to persistent socioeconomic gaps that disfavor the Masortim. These gaps are smaller among the not-so-religious electorate, leading to a shift toward the center-left parties and a consequent greater resemblance to the voting patterns of the secular public.