Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Israeli attack goes to heart of society in crisis

An attack on young Palestinians by youthful Israelis demonstrates how Israel is increasingly dominated by hatred.

When they were taken into court in handcuffs, the Israeli boys and girls who came close to committing murder tried to hide their faces, shielding themselves from the glare of the cameras. Yet the media coverage has been relentless and has starkly exposed the violence that pervades so much of Israeli society.

Seven youths, including Jewish boys as young as 13 and two 15-year old girls, were arrested for an attack on four Palestinian boys - in broad daylight in downtown Jerusalem. The attack has been called an "attempted lynching". Witnesses reported that the Palestinian boys were minding their own business when they were set upon. One boy was beaten so badly paramedics said he did not have a pulse, although he later regained consciousness.

One of the alleged attackers was unrepentant: "As far as I am concerned, he can die," he told reporters outside the court.

Where does such hate come from among people who are so young? The answer lies within Israel, and a worsening culture of hate for the "other" inculcated over generations. This violence wasn't on the same scale as settler attacks on Palestinians - the so-called "price tag" attacks that even the US State Department recognises as terrorism - but it stems from the same source.

Israeli society is riven by a crisis of xenophobia. One can see this dramatically in the way African immigrants have been treated, evicted from their homes and deported to South Sudan. In some cases, their homes and businesses have been attacked even though they were vacant. One can see it too in the way that so many Israelis divide Jews into categories, from the European Jews to the Arabs and Iranians to the Africans of Jewish origin, who regularly complain of discrimination.

Official Israeli policy aids this. The language of Israeli politicians dehumanises the "others", whether they are Palestinians or some other "suspect" group. In the occupied Palestinian territory discrimination is official: Israeli police protect illegal settlers as they attack Palestinians, while the state continues to construct Jewish-only roads.

Many Israelis recognise this violence and openly wonder what happened to the tolerant, liberal society some of their founders intended. The truth is that the continuing occupation of Palestinian land - the checkpoints, the violence, the theft, the legal discrimination - has created a society based on domination, a cruel idea that has permeated every aspect of Israeli society.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National