Courtesy Reuters Ultra-Orthodox protesters pray during clashes in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem.
Foreign Affairs From The Anthology: Clueless in Gaza
Explore the Anthology

The Near Enemy

Why the Real Threat to Israel Isn't in Gaza

With Hamas busy firing rockets at Israeli cities, it's only natural that the Israeli public's primary concern in recent days has been physical security. But it should also be attuned to other, equally dangerous, problems posed by the current crisis. As Israel shifts to war footing, the authority of the Israeli state and the country's ability to remain a pluralistic democracy are under threat.

Following the horrific murder last month of three teenagers -- Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach -- who were from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and were kidnapped and then shot by a Hamas cell from Hebron, anger and grief quickly turned into calls for revenge. Political figures from the ultra-right party Habayit Hayehudi (the Jewish Home) and extremist members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party demanded an immediate response, incitements that quickly echoed through Israeli social media. Ultranationalist and messianic elements within Israeli society predictably proved eager to answer the call. They were soon harassing and sometimes attacking innocent Muslims in the streets of Israeli cities and settlements -- a wave of hate crimes that reached its peak with the heinous murder of a Palestinian teen, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped and burned alive by a group of Israeli extremists.

As news of Khdeir's death spread, it seemed for a moment that Israelis had been shocked into recognizing the dire consequences of inflammatory and hateful calls for revenge. Netanyahu himself vehemently condemned the murder and any incitement against innocent Arabs, even as he drew attention to how Israelis and Palestinians respond to racially motivated violence. However, as has happened too often in the past, self-reflection -- consideration about within Israel about the boundaries for legitimate speech and the state's monopoly on the legitimate use of force -- quickly gave way

Log in or register for free to continue reading.

Registered users get access to one free article every month. Subscribers get access to the entire archive.

Browse Related Articles on {{}}

{{ | number}} Articles Found

  • {{bucket.key_as_string}}