Israeli Neo-Nazis: Frustrated?

Time magazine has taken a shot at unraveling the mystery of the Israeli Neo-Nazis:

The reasons why a teenager might turn against his own tribe may be more complex than a dubious bloodline or a forged ID. Israel in many ways can be a shuttered, exclusive society in which outsiders find it difficult to fit in. Some of the Soviet immigrants adapted well to Israeli life, and are now among the country’s best doctors, classical musicians, star athletes, and army commandos. But for many, the transition to Israel was jarring and disruptive. Despite their professional credentials, they were only offered low-paying jobs as hospital cleaners and restaurant security guards, the first line of defense against a suicide bomber. Youngsters fell into gangs and crime; police say that in 2003, Russian immigrants accounted for 14% of the country’s juvenile crime wave. As one educator told the daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the neo-Nazi teenagers were probably acting out “feelings of frustration and deprivation.”

Hmm, I don’t know. That seems like a rather facile way to explain how these guys came to do what they did, where they did it. Given the graphic nature of the violence and the ideology they’ve adopted–and the similarities between the death-metal videos they made of their rampages and the videos that have emerged from their skinhead counterparts in Russia–I’d bet there’s more to the story. Immigration can be “frustrating,” and the transition to Israel (yes, a rather closed society) can certainly be “jarring and disruptive.” But there’s a big jump from alienation to anti-Semitic beat-downs, particularly for Jews in Israel.


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