Israel

“…the threat of losing Israel’s character as a Jewish state is also seen not only as a matter of values and identity but also as an existential threat”

Some people in Israel and abroad have a dismissive or even contemptuous attitude toward this fear. They invoke Israel’s enormous military might, including its reported nuclear weapons, as evidence that this fear is unfounded and perhaps even deliberately inflated by a manipulative leadership. This view is misguided. First, even if the fear is not realistic, it should be taken seriously and efforts should be made to try to dispel it. Second, the fact that Israel probably has nuclear weapons does not help the individual Israeli who is being threatened on a daily basis by terrorist attacks. Third, anyone who looks at the regional map, even briefly, will see that while Israel may be a “Goliath” in the conflict with the Palestinians, it is certainly far from it in the context of the Muslim world that surrounds it, and we have seen in recent days how non-Muslim minorities are treated in the Middle East.

In this context, the threat of losing Israel’s character as a Jewish state is also seen not only as a matter of values and identity but also as an existential threat. So the insistence on enacting Basic Laws that would anchor the status of Israel as a Jewish nation-state, which has been voiced in right-wing circles and part of the political center, is understandable. On the other hand, of course, Arab hate crimes are expressions of fear on the Arab side, both for the fate of their people outside the borders of Israel and for their own future within Israel.

Yair Sheleg, “Four Steps to Combat Arab-Jewish Hatred”, The Jewish Week (21 November 2014), 26.