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Through the Squalls of Hate: Arab-Phobic Attitudes among Extreme Right and Moderate Right in Israel

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Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler and Eran Halperin work at Haifa University's National Security Studies Center.

"Arabs are the same as animals. There is no animal worse than them." (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Haaretz, 20.03.2000)


Scholars investigating the extreme right wing underscore the centrality of fear and hate (xenophobia) of foreigners or immigrants as one of the core elements in identifying one's self with an extreme right ideology. Moreover, xenophobia in general and anti-immigrant attitudes in particular have been found to be key factors in explaining support for extreme right-wing parties in Europe (Lubbers and Scheepers, 2000, 2001; Lubbers, Gijsberts and Scheepers, 2004). Furthermore, the most comprehensive classification of extreme right-wing ideological features found xenophobia to be one of the five ideological components common enough to be cited by at least half of the authors in the field (Mudde, 1995).

In the attempt to fight against xenophobia, hate and discrimination, the Israeli state's Declaration of Independence emphasizes the intention to establish a society free of hatred -- a society where all citizens enjoy equal rights. Yet, 57 years after its establishment, the country is still marked by hatred towards distinct minority groups, particularly the Arabs, who are hated especially in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (Yishai & Pedahzur, 1999). Similar to the European arena, xenophobia was also found to be a major factor in the ideology of extreme right-wing political parties in Israel (Pedahzur & Perliger, 2004; Sprinzak, 1991). However, given the prolonged conflict with the Arab world, it seems that xenophobic attitudes and views towards Arabs have long been pervasive in Israeli culture, and not only among right-wing extremists. In addition, the extreme right-wing label in Israel is applied exclusively within the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and mainly with respect to the question of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The extremist...