Reflecting on Israeli Society During the Conflict: The Best and the Worst » ADL Blogs
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August 7, 2014 0

Reflecting on Israeli Society During the Conflict: The Best and the Worst

With Israel scal­ing down its oper­a­tions in Gaza and a cease­fire begin­ning to hold, Israeli soci­ety will now reflect on the last four weeks. Out of this fright­en­ing and tense period, one source of inspi­ra­tion and opti­mism has been the sense of sol­i­dar­ity and close­ness felt by Israelis.

Across the coun­try, peo­ple of every age and polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion clam­ored to help and “do some­thing.” Israelis mobi­lized to show sup­port for the IDF sol­diers serv­ing on the front – peo­ple sent food, care pack­ages, sup­plies — even washed uni­forms.  Oth­ers offered to host res­i­dents of the south who left their homes for fear of the unend­ing fall of rock­ets and blare of warn­ing sirens. Thou­sands went to funer­als and shivas for the fallen sol­diers – par­tic­u­larly those of the “lone” sol­diers – whose fam­i­lies live out­side Israel. Mass prayer vig­ils were held.

Funeral of IDF Soldier Max Steinberg

Funeral of IDF Sol­dier Max Steinberg

But while we can cel­e­brate in this wide­spread feel­ing of unity and gen­eros­ity, we can­not deny that other, trou­bling ten­den­cies also emerged over these past weeks.

Some who pub­licly dis­agreed with Israel’s mil­i­tary oper­a­tion were called “trai­tors” and in some cases, even “Nazis.” Some protest­ing the con­flict were phys­i­cally attacked. Ten­sions with Israeli Arabs have grown. Many were out­raged by reports of some groups of Israeli Arabs who cel­e­brated in the killing of IDF sol­diers. This hos­til­ity inten­si­fied in both speech and action, and there were reports of iso­lated vig­i­lante attacks on Israeli Arab tar­gets. Indeed, when an East Jerusalem Pales­tin­ian attacked a Jerusalem city bus with a con­struc­tion vehi­cle, killing one, out of con­cern for their phys­i­cal safety of Arabs in the vicin­ity, police quickly moved to ensure their safety.

As we begin to think about “the day after,” Israelis must think about how to har­ness the pos­i­tive while reduc­ing the neg­a­tive. We must fig­ure out how to build on the sense of unity and gen­eros­ity while still valu­ing the exchange of dif­fer­ent view­points, and ensur­ing that respect­ful dis­course thrives.