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As Israel’s war with Hamas enters its eighth month, most Israelis continue to support the offensive in Gaza – but are increasingly losing confidence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who even before the war started in 2023 had a host of domestic problems.

Many people not from or familiar with Israel might find these two truths contradictory. But really, they reveal the complicated layers of Israel’s politics and national psyche, explains Arie Perliger, a scholar of Israeli politics at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Israelis’ mindset and history help explain their nuanced response to the country’s war against Hamas, Perliger writes. One central feature is a feeling of persecution that Israelis and Jewish people have carried with them for generations, dating back to the biblical era.

“The brutal Oct. 7 murders and the extermination of entire communities in southern Israel left Israelis feeling shocked, vulnerable and insecure. The attacks reminded Israelis that the country faces existential threats, which they believe need to be eliminated in any way possible,” Perliger writes.

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Amy Lieberman

Politics + Society Editor

Protesters wave Israeli flags and protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on May 20, 2024. Matan Golan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Most Israelis dislike Netanyahu, but support the war in Gaza – an Israeli scholar explains what’s driving public opinion

Arie Perliger, UMass Lowell

Israelis’ and Jewish people’s long-held feeling of persecution, dating back to biblical times, contributes to most Israelis’ desire to continue the war in Gaza.

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