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116 SHOFAR Summer 1996 Vol. 14, No.4 BOOK REVIEWS The Elections in Israel-1992, edited by Asher Arian and Michal Shamir. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995. 326 pp. $64.50 (c); $21.95 (P). This is a book that readers of this journal who are interested in Israeli elections .wiD want to have for their personal libraries. Period. The Elections in Israel-1992 is another in the outstanding series of studies of Israel's elections associated with the scholarship of Asher Arian that have appeared over the years, including in recent years The Elections in Israel1977 (Asher Arian, ed., Jerusalem Academic Press, 1980), The Elections in Israel-1981 (Asher Arian, ed., Transaction Press, 1983), The Elections in Israel-1984 (Asher Arian and Michal Shamir, eds., Transaction Press, 1986), and The Elections in Israel-1988 (Asher Arian and Michal Shamir, eds., Westview Press, 1990). While there have been other studies ofIsraeli voting and elections to appear over the years (such as Abraham Diskin's very impressive 1991 volume Elections and Voters in Israe!), Asher Arian's name has become closely associated with post-election studies of Israel, and Arian is at least partially responsible for the observation that Israeli elections must be among the most thoroughly studied and analyzed of elections in any democracy today. One of the real values of this volume is in the contribution it makes to our understanding of Israeli political history. How have Israeli voters changed over the years? Are their fundamental beliefs different today from the beliefs of the electorate ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Is their behavior different? What does their collective behavior tell us about the fundamental characteristics of Israeli society today? These questions, and others, are addressed in this volume. This book, like many of its predecessors, is a collection of essays by a group of the very best scholars writing in the field today. The volume begins with a very good essay-that I wish were twice as long as it isdiscussing the setting and introducing some of the themes that are addressed by the authors whose work is included in the book. They suggest, among other things, that the election of 1992 was not a "critical" election (one indicating a permanent shift of voter identities in Israel) but rather was "transitional" in nature, showing that a fundamental realign- Book Reviews 117 ment from the Likud-dominated era (1977-1992) was beginning to take place, but the precise end result of which was still unclear. The election of 1992 was significant in a number of respects. Past elections had produced governments incapable of action, with coalitions dependent upon a large number of parties. This election sent a clear message and produced a government coalition capable of dramatic action, unlike governments destined to a state of immobilisme of past years. This election left the Labor party in a stronger position than predecessors had been for many years. This election was also much more personal than others had been in the past, with Yitzhak Rabin very properly claiming personal credit for the outcome of the election. After being led by Shimon Peres to electoral defeats on three occasions, Labor saw victory associated with the renewal of political leadership of Rabin. The volume is divided into several sections, each addressing a different theme. The first section focuses on political turnover. Here we find an outstanding essay by Arian and Shamir on "Why 1992 Was Not 1977," along with another very perceptive essay by Ron Shachar and Michal Shamir on "Modeling Victory in the 1992 Election." Both of these essays do a very good job of showing the similarities and differences in the 1977 and 1992 elections, both instances of "turnabouts" in electoral results. The second section of the book examines group influences in the electorate and includes some very useful contributions by Hanna Herzog ("The Politics of Collective Identities"), Yael Yishai ("The Gender Gap"), Aaron Willis ("Shas: Religious Movement and Political Power"), Majid A1Haj ("The Arabs in Israel. . . Integration versus Segregation"), and Aharon Fein ("Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union"). Each ofthese chapters fiUs in another piece of the jigsaw puzzle about who, exactly, the voters were, what they...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 116-118
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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