Islamists in a Zionist coalition: the political and religious origins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On June 13, 2021, the United Arab List, representing the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel (SIM), became the first independent Arab party to join a Zionist governmental coalition. The article analyzes why the move hardly stirred opposition within the leadership and the popular base of a movement rooted in the Muslim Brothers. It demonstrates that the SIM’s coalition-oriented agenda responded to the firm and consistent demand for greater political impact voiced by a majority of the Arab public in Israel, and was commensurate with the religio-legal arguments introduced by the movement over two and a half decades of defending its decision to run for the Knesset. These arguments include stressing the importance of pragmatism in Islam and drawing analogies to religious narratives about cooperation with and service in infidel governments, such as the conduct of Muslims in Abyssinia and the conduct of Prophet Joseph in Egypt. Ironically, rather than limit its options, the Islamic premise upon which the United Arab List has operated turned out to allow it flexibility other Arab parties in Israel could not afford.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-199
Number of pages24
JournalPolitics, Religion and Ideology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • Islam and democracy
  • Islamism
  • Israeli politics
  • The Islamic Movement in Israel
  • Zionism

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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