Arrest of a member of the neo-Nazi group
Photo: Avi Moalem
Tip of the iceberg
Neo-Nazi gang small part of much wider problem of violence

The country has been in a state of shock since the early hours of Sunday morning, when reports about a group of neo-Nazi youth operating in Israel of 2007 became public.


These youngsters have absolutely no idea who they are identifying with and what they represent. They hate everyone equally, not only Jews, religious people, blacks, foreigners and homosexuals. They hate, period. They searched and found the most provocative "brand" imaginable and raised its banner.


The question of whether "the idea came from their homes" is marginal. It should be remembered that the period of adolescence is complex, and one of its key functions is to forge an identity. En route to this goal these Neo-Nazi youth lost their way. They are not the only ones getting lost and continuing to get lost. Our test is to find them and show them the way home.


The question that keeps repeating itself is "is this the tip of the iceberg?" It's difficult to answer this question without clarifying
what the "iceberg" is. If the iceberg is identification with the Nazi ideology and doctrine, the answer is no. If the iceberg is the loss of a direction and disconnection between our youth and the State the answer is yes. This is the issue that should concern us all. Neo-Nazis in Israel of 2007, outrageous as it may be, represent just a sliver of ice that broke away from a much larger iceberg.


In recent weeks we have witnessed the extent of youth who shirk their duty to the State. The moral gap between neo-Nazism and draft dodging is vast, yet the two phenomena share a common thread: Lack of attachment and obligation to the State. As in any social problem - even before the causes of these cases have been ascertained - those with vested interests, who don't let the facts confuse them, immediately resort to solutions that are in line with their social agendas.


According to them, reports about the group of neo-Nazis in our great backyard present an opportunity to advance their interests. One of the proposed solutions is updating the Law of Return, similar to the proposed tactics aimed at fighting draft dodgers that call for humiliation and isolation.


New social agenda needed

Why have more and more youth been avoiding the draft is recent years? Could this be a response to the State's shirking of responsibility for its citizens? We have not enjoyed adequate security, health and education services for quite some time. What we do have is an illusion that the State is working for its citizens.


A comedy team once termed this "Israbluff." Even the discourse surrounding the neo-Nazis living and operating in Israel is part of the creation of a falsity - as if the State still has some important basic morals for which it will fight without compromise.


We should wake up, look at things as they are and aim to confront the existential problems we all face today, the primary one being the various forms of violence: The violence of a State towards its citizens, the violence of citizens towards their country, the violence of citizens towards each other, at home, on the street, at schools and in places of work – whether it is verbal, physical or sexual.


The call for a new social agenda is inevitable. The "Aminut (Crediblity) Association," which deals with incidences of violence within the family, society and sexual abuse, offers professional services in the fields of welfare, health, enforcement, legislation, investigation, academics and media. The association's first national conference is set to be held in Haifa in October and will focus on the social toll taken by violence.


 The writer is a lecturer at the School of Social Work at the University of Haifa


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