Rising hate is fragmenting Israeli communities

Adnan Abu Amer

Middle East Monitor  /  August 5, 2022

As campaigns get underway ahead of Israel’s November general election, it is expected that internal Israeli disputes and divisions will increase. Recent polls have confirmed that rates of hate and enmities have moved from leaders of the parties and parliamentary blocs to the Israeli public.

Hate Index, which maps divisions and hate in Israeli society, found that 51 per cent of the public hates Knesset members, 81 per cent demanded that state and party leaders give up some of their slogans in exchange for the unity of Israelis, 34 per cent hate journalists, the same number hate judges, 20 per cent hate local mayors and 17 per cent hate the police.

In addition, 62 per cent of Israelis accuse the media of contributing to the spread of hate and division, 31 per cent believe that social media networks are the largest contributor to this and 24 per cent believe that the judicial system is the cause of deepening divisions and hate. It was also revealed that the Israeli society tends to hate minorities, where 40 per cent of Israelis hate Arabs, 33 per cent hate descendants of the former Soviet Union, 30 per cent hate eastern Sephardic Jews, 26 per cent do not look fondly on Western Ashkenazi Jews, and 11 per cent hate Falasha Ethiopian Jews.

The results are an expression of the phenomenon of hate resulting from the high rates of internal divisions among Israelis, especially after the assassination of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by an extremist Jew in 1995. This coincided with the rise of hatred towards minorities within the state, even towards Jews of different origins.

Rates of hate among Israelis are not limited to political activists only, but extend to family disputes within the same Jewish family, because the sharp political division witnessed in Israel over the past five electoral campaigns negatively impacted local communities and even families. The result is that all aspects of Israeli society show indicators confirming the fragmentation and division of the community.

Coinciding with these alarming statistical indicators, there are more warnings that levels of internal hate within Israeli society are on the rise. This provides clear evidence of Israel’s failure to preserve internal unity.

It is hard to talk about hate indicators without addressing Israelis’ worst scenario; civil war. A civil war would be a natural result of the fragmentation of Israeli society. Increasing rates of incitement and violence have contributed to tearing society apart.

The rise in internal security risks is taking place at the same time that Israel is experiencing an increase in external safety risks.

The government has been accused of turning a blind eye to the spread of organized crime as evidenced by its lenient response to it. There has been an increase in the number of cases of violence against public officials, including medical personnel and hospital guards, who are subjected to brutal violence while the government is doing nothing.

Moreover, cases of internal Israeli violence are no longer isolated or individual, but rather have turned over time into a general epidemic that affects the whole country. Since the beginning of 2022, 40 per cent of bus drivers have been subjected to violent attacks with more than 300 incidents reported. Teachers are also coming under attack at the hands of parents who are frustrated by the failure of their children. Even within the student community there is physical violence and psychological harm.

Israelis accuse the government of leniency in the manner in which it grants gun licences to carry personal weapons; which are usually obtained under the pretext of being used to thwart guerrilla attacks. The result, however, is that these weapons are being used against Israelis. Abuse and attacks against young children continue in some parks, and Israelis are left unprotected.

While Jewish Israelis now live in an atmosphere of organized crime, amid the spread of mafia families, Palestinian citizens of Israel are experiencing the spread of rampant crime, including murder.

Israelis fear the return of conditions that prevailed in the 1980s, when criminals began to control some areas, collect fines and use extortion and threats of extreme violence. Criminal gangs shot their opponents in broad daylight, there were daily shootings and houses and cars were targeted with bombs in the centre of cities. Entire neighbourhoods lived in constant fear.

Israelis say that the state and its security services are very close to losing complete control, in light of the dominance of criminal gangs, and the inability of the police and security services to control them. Israelis are terrified and believe that if police numbers do not increase, tough penalties put in place, and if possession of illegal weapons is not banned, then there is going to be an inevitable disaster.

Adnan Abu Amer is the head of the Political Science Department at the University of the Ummah in Gaza