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  • Left to right: JPC Director General and event moderator Uri Dromi, Prof. Noa Aharony, Prof. Jonathan Rynhold, and Dr. Julia Elad-Strenger

    Left to right: JPC Director General and event moderator Uri Dromi, Prof. Noa Aharony, Prof. Jonathan Rynhold, and Dr. Julia Elad-Strenger

    Political and Information Scientists Speak Out on Upcoming Elections

    Date: 2019-04-02 Hour: 13:00

    Ahead of next week's Israeli elections, Bar-Ilan University Prof. Jonathan Rynhold said that while the Blue and White party has been successful in taking some votes from the center, it is not enough to make the bloc larger than the right, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is still in a position to form the next government.

    An expert in Israeli politics and US-Israel relations, Rynhold, Director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People in the Department of Political Studies, delivered a briefing at the Jerusalem Press Club together with Prof. Noa Aharony, Chairman of Bar-Ilan's Department of Information Science, and Dr. Julia Elad-Strenger, of the Department of Political Studies.

    Nonetheless, continued Rynhold, the result of the election is still very open because there are parties on the right, center right and an Arab party that are hovering around the threshold, and whether or not they cross the threshold will greatly impact the balance between the two blocs and who has the best chance of forming and leading the next government.

    A narrow right-wing coalition will be more supportive of the settlements and political agenda of the ultra-Orthodox, continued Rynhold. In contrast, a center-led coalition would be more sensitive to non-Orthodox sensitivities at the Wailing Wall, and willing to freeze settlements beyond the security barrier and expand Palestinian control in certain areas of the West Bank in exchange for upgrading relations with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, said Rynhold.

    More than ever, the current elections is about the left vs. right bloc, emphasized Dr. Julia Elad-Strenger. A political psychologist, she discussed how identity-politics is crucial in determining the outcome of these elections.

    Under threat such as ongoing conflict), citizens gravitate towards conservative ideologies because they provide a sense of clarity and security. Hence, all parties have to speak in this language to try to gain support under threat. In contemporary Israeli discourse, the label “right-wing” is perceived as representing conservatism, as opposed to the label “left”. But left and right are not only labels. Rather, they represent or create social identities.

    Blue and White members are actually quite conservative, she continued, but once they are labeled as left in disguise, right-wing voters will see them as an out-group without reading their platform or observing the fact that they are actually led by high-ranking members of the security establishment. Citizens tend to expose themselves selectively to information, and interpret information selectively to avoid information that contradicts their views. Therefore, she said, it will be very difficult for Blue and White to recruit right-wing voters.

    Prof. Aharony, Chairman of the Department of Information Science, discussed politicians' use of social media during election campaigns. She said that the adoption of social media as political platforms is popular as it enables a free open channel. This new type of political communication is personalized and focuses on the politicians' personal life. Instead of using these platforms to disseminate information ideas, plans and strategies, it aims to create an alliance with the audience, by presenting the politicians as "normal people" with family life and hobbies. Further, politicians use emotionally based discourse in their personal websites, as well as the pathos element of persuasion. It echoes previous studies all around the world where politicians used the emotionally based discourse in order to cause the audience to identify with them through a creation of bond between them and the audience, or through the creation of fear, she concluded.