generally did not join the forces, but many of them worked in military camps as laborers, often far from the social control of their families and communities.
IN THE STATE OF ISRAEL
The First Decades
The entire structure of crime among Jews changed rapidly with the evolution of the new society in the State of Israel. Practically no feature that had been regarded as characteristic of criminality among Jews in the Diaspora appeared in Israel's criminal statistics. The common offenses against the person – such as assault, physical injury, and homicide – and against property – such as theft and burglary – which in the Diaspora were less frequently committed by Jews, account for the overwhelming majority of convictions of Jews in Israel. It seems that crime became, as E. Durkheim expressed it, one of the normal expressions of life in society. This normalization is also reflected in the fact that fraud and forgery, which had constituted in Poland about 21%, in Germany about 13%, and
in the Netherlands about 5% of all Jewish crime, made up only 3.1% in Israel (the average for the years 1956–65).
Another feature of crime in Israel is the fact that after an initial rise of about 30% – from 7.5 to 10.6 per thousand of the total population during the first years of mass immigration (1948 to 1952) – the crime rates for the Jewish population did not rise for over a decade. The average crime rate for Jewish adults from 1956 to 1965 was 10.1 per thousand. In spite of the upheavals and tensions accompanying Israel's birth, including the mass immigration of diverse ethnic groups, crime in Israel is relatively moderate in extent and characterized by the absence of brutal and ruthless offenses.
The changed physiognomy of crime in Israel, as shown in Table 2: Jewish Adult Offenders, is probably a consequence of the radical change in the occupational structure of the Jews.
A study of specific offenses committed by Jews and non-Jews in Israel will illustrate this further. (Figures given are conviction rates per thousand of the adult population concerned.)
Offenses Against the Person
The rates for all offenses against the person were on the average 2.9 among Jews and 8.8 among Arabs. The rates for homicide, rarely committed by Jews in the Diaspora, remained relatively moderate among Jews in Israel: 0.4 on the average for the years 1951 to 1965. Of the homicides, 34% were due to matrimonial and other emotional conflicts, 25% resulted from quarrels between neighbors and business partners, 14% were committed in the course of robbery and 8% during quarrels among criminals, 3% were connected with "family honor" in traditional Oriental families; 15% were committed for various other motives. Aggressive offenses involving bodily harm were 7.0% of all offenses against the person in 1964 and only 5.7% in 1965, which confirms the impression that crime among Jews in Israel is still less violent and brutal than in many other countries. Offenses against the Dangerous Drug Laws were rare: about 0.1 per thousand Jews and 0.2 for Arabs. There were 133 cases among Jews in 1964 and 135 in 1965. In most cases the offenders were immigrants from North Africa, Asia, and the Levant who acquired the drug habit in their countries of origin but did not pass them on to the next generation in Israel. Among the emerging class of habitual offenders in Israel, however, there were some who used drugs, trafficked in them, or induced others to become addicted in order to exploit them.
Offenses Against Morality
Offenses against morality were never characteristic of Jews in the Diaspora, and in Israel the conviction rates are also low – e.g., 0.29 for Jews and 0.45 for Arabs in 1964, a typical year. There were very few serious and brutal sex crimes, only 2.6% of all offenses against morality during the years 1956 to 1965. There were only eight convictions of rape or attempted rape in 1963, nine in 1964, and six in 1965. Most of the offenses against morality consisted of "indecent behavior," generally against minors. Cases of brothel-keeping and soliciting were also relatively few: 41 in 1963, 67 in 1964, and 59 in 1965.
Offenses Against Property
The common offenses against property are the most widespread. The rates were 3.13 among Jews on the average for the ten years 1956 to 1965 and 8.77 among Arabs, taking the average for five alternate years from 1956 to 1964. Theft from the person, which in some European countries was sometimes described as a "typically Jewish" offense, is rare in Israel and growing rarer: there were 44 convictions in 1951, and only 37 in 1965, when the Jewish population was almost twice as great. On the other hand, a class of habitual burglars is clearly emerging: there were 379 convictions in 1963, 468 in 1964, and 501 in 1965. Robbery, which entails direct contact with the victim, physical attack, and a threat to his life, is, however, comparatively rare: there were 7 cases in 1963, 9 in 1964, and only 3 in 1965. It seems that even the habitual criminal in Israel shies away from this aggressive form of offense against property.
Offenses Against Public Order and the Authority of the State
Offenses against public order and the authority of the state represent somewhat more than a quarter of all offenses committed by Jews and just over half among Arabs. This greater representation of Arabs is partly due to the political situation, Arabs being often convicted for illegal border crossings and other offenses connected with the emergency regulations. Violent disturbances of the peace in Israel make up more than half the total of offenses against public order – a very different situation from that in the Diaspora, where Jews are not generally involved in such behavior. Many of these violations have been aggressive acts committed against public servants, mainly due to the tensions arising out of mass immigration and absorption problems. All the other offenses in this main category are much less frequent in Israel than in the Diaspora. Evasion of military service is very rare. Corruption and abuse of office do not constitute a serious problem, but the public is deeply disturbed at the thought that they are committed at all, even if only occasionally. An average of 24.2 individuals per year were convicted for such offenses during the ten-year period from 1956 to 1965, and they have been on the decline in recent years: there were 33 cases in 1962, but only 19 in 1963, 18 in 1964, and 15 in 1965.
Share of Different Immigrant Groups
Statistics indicate considerable differences between the crime rates for those born in North Africa, Asia, and Europe, respectively. (See Table 3: Jewish Adult Offenders). The conviction rates for the various ethnic groups show that these differences
have been fairly consistent during the first years of the State of Israel.
S.N. Eisenstadt, in his study, The Absorption of Immigrants (1954), has pointed to some of the factors which may explain the differences in deviant behavior between European and Oriental Jews in Israel. The European immigrants, particularly in the earlier years, were inspired by the ideal of Jewish labor – the desire to engage in basic productive occupations in agriculture, industry, and public works – which implies a readiness for occupational change and a striving to create a new society based on social justice. The Orientals, on the other hand, hoped "to be able to follow more fully and securely their own way of life" (pp. 93–94) after their immigration. Thus they were not consciously prepared for radical changes in their economic and occupational way of life.
This situation was aggravated by the fact that the Oriental Jewish communities were composed mostly of a small wealthy and educated class and great masses of the poor and uneducated. The latter, due to lack of education and training, were unable immediately to make good use of the opportunities offered by Israel's expanding society and economy. Some of them resented the pioneering, vitally necessary work they were offered in distant development areas in afforestation, agriculture, road construction and the like, leaving such areas and moving into slum areas in the urban centers. Thus problems and situations of frustration and tension were created, resulting, in many cases, in crime. But there were great differences in the crime rates among the Oriental Jews themselves, which seem to have been caused mainly by the conditions under which they were absorbed and integrated and the measure in which their expectations and aspirations were fulfilled in daily life.
Crime rates for newcomers from Asian countries are much lower than those for the North African countries, but they are also very similar to each other, in spite of the fact that the immigrants come from extremely different social and cultural conditions. This is particularly noticeable in the case of those from Iraq and the Yemen, respectively. Among the immigrants from Iraq, there is a substantial class of well-educated, wealthy leaders, some of whom had taken an active part in the political, economic, and cultural life in the country of their origin and often even occupied official positions of importance. The Yemenite Jews, on the other hand, had lived, with few exceptions, in a culturally backward country in conditions similar to serfdom. They were regarded as the property of the Imam; they had no political or civil rights and no modern education. These extreme differences, however, seemed to have no influence whatsoever on the crime rates for the two communities in Israel: among the Yemenites 11.5 per thousand in 1956–57 and 10.9 in 1958–60, and among the Iraqis 11.5 and 11.3 respectively.
The common factor seems to be that during the long period of their Diaspora life both communities remained deeply immersed in the lifestream of the Jewish people. Both studied and observed the religious traditions, always felt part of the Jewish people, and after the establishment of the state returned to Israel practically in their entirety (121,512 Iraqis and 45,159 Yemenites) during the very short period between May 1948 and the end of 1951. The fact that they moved to Israel as intact and cohesive communities, with their religious and political leaders, rich and poor, young and old, gave them a sense of mutual responsibility, security and pride, which sustained them through the inevitable difficulties and strains of the initial period.
Though the Iraqis found no substantial community of common origin on their arrival, and there were no officials from Iraq to receive the masses who were transplanted within a couple of years, this highly developed community, with all its trusted leaders and rabbis, intellectuals, wealthy men, doctors, bankers, nurses, and social workers enabled the sick and the dependent to turn for advice, guidance, and support in their own language to their own countrymen, who had soon found positions in hospitals and clinics, labor exchanges, housing and settlement offices, social welfare bureaus, and other agencies concerned with the absorption of immigrants. These conditions substantially helped to lessen absorption problems among the Iraqi immigrants and thus kept crime in this group down to reasonable proportions.
Yemenite Jews had settled in Ereẓ Israel in substantial numbers (about 18,000) in the Ottoman and Mandatory periods, before the entire community of 45,000 was transferred to Israel immediately after its establishment. Although these early immigrants were unable to take up positions of influence in the newly emerging Jewish society, they had certain characteristics and skills which paved the way for smooth integration and speedy absorption after the state had been established. Most of the Yemenite Jews had been artisans and craftsmen, and some had worked on the land. As early as in the 1880s they had made a name for themselves as highly skilled, reliable, and competent workers. Their industry, cleanliness, modesty, and reliability soon made them a respected and welcome element in the pioneering laboring class. There was no need for occupational change; they were easily absorbed into the new social and economic system.
The Yemenites enjoy life in Israel as the fulfillment of their hopes and prayers and feel that they fully belong to its society. These favorable circumstances are obviously the main reason for the low crime rate among them. The similarity of the rates for the Iraqis, many of them wealthy and well educated, and the Yemenites, who came from conditions of backwardness and poverty, seems to indicate that traditional values and, in particular, the cohesiveness and solidarity of the community go a long way to explain the comparatively low crime rates among Jews everywhere. The same principle, from the opposite end, is illustrated by the North African immigrants.
North African Immigrants
Many Jews in the North African French protectorates had taken advantage of the promise
A mere thousand Jews went to Palestine from Morocco between 1919 and 1937; even in the early years of independence, 1948–51, when life in Morocco had become precarious for them, only about 45,000 immigrants came to Israel. The majority of Moroccan immigrants, about 88,000, left between 1955 and 1957, when Morocco had become independent and the Jews were threatened by mob violence. As the immigrants from North Africa consisted almost entirely of the less-educated and unskilled masses, they were unable, at first, to provide recruits for even the lower levels of Israel's political and social leadership. This fact was apparently the basic cause of the overrepresentation of North African Jews in crime in Israel. When 133,000 Moroccan Jews arrived in two waves, in 1948–51 and 1955–57, they found practically no members of their community to receive them and there were not enough educated people among them to be trained in a reasonable time to represent them in the administration and public services. This situation improved greatly with the evolvement of a local leadership in the development areas, particularly with the rapid acculturation of the young through army service and compulsory education, but the newly created slum population in the urban areas, as well as the disintegrating paternalistic structure and authority of the large families, still served as hotbeds of rebellious, antisocial attitudes, which often expressed themselves in crime (see below).
Juvenile Delinquency Before and Since the Establishment of the State
Although no reliable statistics are available on the subject, it is generally assumed that there was little juvenile delinquency among Diaspora Jews. In Mandatory Palestine as well, juvenile delinquency was probably very low, though no detailed statistics were published. During the years 1932–43, when the total Jewish population grew from about 175,000 to about 500,000, the number of juvenile offenders increased from 191 per year (average for 1932–37) to 322.5 per year (average for 1938–43). Among non-Jews the situation appears to have been similar during 1932–37, when differences in the demographic data and development are taken into consideration. During the period 1938–43, however, Arab juvenile delinquency increased by almost 100%, while the Arab population grew by less than 30%. As in the case of adult crime, this growth may be explained by the impact of the war and the opportunities for crime in and around military camps.
In the State of Israel, however, the incidence of juvenile delinquency among Jews started to increase. In 1951, the conviction rates for boys aged 9–16 and girls aged 9–18 were 4.5 per thousand of these age groups, while juvenile delinquency accounted for 12.1% of all crimes committed in Israel. Conviction rates for juveniles grew steadily to 9.8 per thousand in 1965, and juvenile delinquency now represented 23.8% of the crime total.
Of 4,453 young Jewish offenders in 1965, 430 were born in Europe or to European parents in Israel. The conviction rates were 7.4 per thousand for juvenile offenders born in Israel, 11.9 for the Asian-born, 23.0 for those born in North Africa and 3.6 for those born in Europe or America. One of the reasons for these developments has been the transition from one way of life to another. The Oriental family went through a severe crisis after immigration. The authority and functions of the family, and particularly those of the previously authoritative father, were substantially reduced or even shattered, while the young people did not yet feel the security that comes from integration into the new society. Many remained without a compelling system of values or effective social control and lived in a cultural and social vacuum. Most have cast off the yoke of religion and traditions without simultaneously achieving the educational and cultural standards of their peers of European origin. This created painful feelings of frustration and tension, which found expression in these comparatively high crime rates.
Juvenile delinquency among Jews in Israel consisted almost exclusively of offenses against property. Criminality figures for young Arab offenders were about twice those for Jews, and the forms of delinquency were also different. In 1961, for instance, only 46.7% of young Arab offenders committed offenses against property, as against 85.7% for Jewish juveniles. The other crimes were mainly offenses against the person, including acts of aggression resulting in physical injury. Trespassing on agricultural lands and illegal border crossing were also frequent. Arab juvenile delinquency is thus due partly to the traditional behavior patterns characteristic of rural societies in the Middle East and partly to tensions and conflicts arising out of the political situation in the region.
Crime Among Females
Authors always stressed the fact that crime among Jewish females in the Diaspora was very rare; some even claimed that the comparatively low general crime rates for Jews were due to the fact that crime was practically unknown among Jewish women. In Israel there has been only a slight increase in their share in crime, from 8.5% of crimes committed by Jews in 1951 to 13.8% in 1965. Crime rates for Jewish females were 1.3 per thousand in 1951 and 2.9 in 1965. Like the males, Jewish women were mainly convicted for offenses against public order and lawful authority, against the person and against property, the figures for these three types of offense being almost identical. Female juveniles committed mainly property offenses. Offenses against morality were rare: in 1961, a census year, 10 adult females and two juveniles were convicted of such offenses. The largest number of Jewish female offenders committed to prisons since the establishment of the state were sentenced for common theft, followed by disturbances of public order and common assault, including assaults on police officers. These facts also seem to reflect absorption problems in immigrant families, which express their dissatisfaction in aggressive behavior, mostly in governmental or other institutions dealing with public welfare and public health problems. Crime rates for non-Jewish females are somewhat lower than for Jewish ones due to the traditional patterns of the Arab village, where women are generally confined to the home. Offenses committed by non-Jewish females are mostly acts of assault and breach of the peace in public places, often in village feuds between clans. Offenses against morality are very rare among Arab women.
After the Six-Day War
An extraordinary rise in crime in Israel was reported in 1966. During that year, the crime rate rose 13.5%, a jump not recorded by the Israel police at any other time during the decade. Two phenomena stand out in particular: growth in the number of robberies; breaking into box offices, booking offices, business firms, and private dwellings; various types of fraud; embezzlement; passing bad checks; and a rise in the crime rate among juveniles, whose share in the general crime rate reached 32.2% in that year.
The year 1966 was the climax of an economic recession, and the rise in offenses against property was possibly a consequence of the depressed condition of the economy. The rise in juvenile crime reflected the prevailing situation in the free world, though gangs of youngsters engaged in organized criminal acts, as found in other developed countries, had not been found in Israel, except small groups, organized ad hoc, for minor crime against property.
The year 1967 was one of war in Israel with the accompanying prewar and postwar periods. It is therefore possible to expect a large rise in crime, if one proceeds from the assumption that war naturally brings with it the collapse of restraints, a withdrawal from lawfulness and order, and a sense of permissiveness toward basic drives and impulses. The actual picture is therefore surprising, for in that year there was a 2.2% decline in crime. This is the only decline in the annual crime rate of the state since its establishment. It is possible that the reason for this decline is inherent in the mobilization – and thus removal from their regular activities – of the entire corpus of manpower, including the criminals; it is also probable that the general sense of danger, and the consciousness of national unity and civil cooperation, were also reasons for the drop.
Immediately afterward, in 1968, the situation returned to normal and there was another rise in the crime rate, this time of 10.6%. A study of the data proves that this percentage is approximately the average for the previous years, with slight fluctuations in both directions; but in comparison with the decline of the previous year, this was a sharp rise. It appears that the main factor behind the rise was the amnesty (albeit selective) declared after the war (July 1967), which set free a large number of criminals from prisons. More important than the widened scope of crime is that, beginning in 1968, the nature of the crimes committed became more serious. Violent crimes, involving the use of firearms and dangerous drugs, grew during that year. It appears that the rise in violent crimes (and not only those involving firearms) is more a reflection of the prevailing situation in most parts of the world, than a consequence of the war. The 1960s, which are sometimes described in other countries as the "Decade of Violence," left their mark on Israel as well. In reference to the use of arms, it is clear that many weapons, much more than in the past, were found in 1968–70 in the hands of citizens to protect their legitimate businesses (legally) and of hundreds of soldiers home on leave. Under such circumstances weapons found their way into the hands of unauthorized persons who used them to commit crimes. These conditions however, are a result of the prolonged emergency situation and only indirectly a result of the war itself.
The disturbing turn in events in the area of drugs after the Six-Day War is also merely an indirect result of the conflict. Many visitors who went to the country after the war – "volunteers" to work on kibbutzim and foreign students – brought with them drug habits and influenced some people of their age group. Another factor, which is also an indirect result of the war, is the fact that the usual routes for smuggling hashish were disrupted between the large supplier – Lebanon – and the large consumer – Egypt – by way of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. As a result, many suppliers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were left with large supplies of hashish and no marketing possibilities. This led to a drop in the prices of illegal drugs in Israel and the country therefore became a source at low prices for acquiring and smuggling hashish, which is more expensive than marijuana. The price in Israel fluctuated between $150–300 per kilogram whereas in the United States and Canada prices ran between $2,000–3,000 per kilogram.
Since the 1970s Israeli crime rates have been constantly rising, with the steepest rise in violent crime. Of the 243,719 crimes reported in Israel in 1985, 263 were cases of murder or
The following decade showed a continuing rise in most crime categories, with murder, sex crimes, spouse and child abuse, and drug crimes increasing. Though not the highest in the Western world, Israeli crime rates were comparable to those in Germany and Austria. While in 1996, 454,622 files were opened, in 2004 the number grew to 517,238, among which 55% were offenses against property. The number of immigrants committing crimes rose from 11,287 in 1996 to 27,747 in 2004, reflecting problems of adjustment among Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. In 2004, the Arab share in Israeli crime was 36.8%, a further reflection of social and economic malaise. A relatively new phenomenon in Israel is what has been recognized as organized crime, involving such familiar agents as local crime families, a Russian Mafia, and foreign hit men and dealing in everything from money laundering to the white slave trade (the importation of women from the former Soviet Union). Of the 173 arrests for the latter offense in 2001–4, 80% were among Russian immigrants. There was also a steep rise in juvenile delinquency. Statistics for the 1990–2002 period show an increase in every category. While in 1990, 20,552 police files were opened for juveniles, by 2002 the number had jumped to 32,067. The nature of juvenile crime had also changed. While until 1965, 80% of juvenile crimes were against property, in 1999 the rate was only 45% as violent crime and drug abuse climbed commensurately. The growth of violence among teenagers, and even younger children – murder, rape, and assault, including violence in schools and disco clubs – has become a common occurrence in Israel, with a jump from 3,508 police files in 1990 to 14,696 in 2002.
Sources: [Yaacov Nash / Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
B. Blau, Die Kriminalitaet der deutschen Juden (1906); R. Wassermann, Beruf, Konfession und Verbrechen (1907); A. Ruppin, Die Soziologie der Juden, 2 vols. (1930); idem, The Jews in the Modern World (1934); W.A. Bonger, Race and Crime (1943); A. Chouraqui, Between East and West (1968); L. Rosenberg, Canada's Jews (1939), 288–99; S.M. Robison, in: M. Sklare (ed.), The Jews: Social Patterns of an American Group (1958), 535–41; J. Lestschinsky, in: YIVO Bleter, 15 (1940), 202–16; N. Goldberg, ibid., 24 (1944), 131–2; idem, in: YIVO Annual, 5 (1950), 266–91; J. Guttman, in: Yivo Bleter, 26 (1945), 210–7; I. Drapkin Senderey, The Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in Israel (1965); S.N. Eisenstadt, The Absorption of Immigrants (1954); S. Shoham, in: Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science, 53 (1962), 207–14; U.(C.) Schmelz and D. Salzman (Gavish), Statistikah Pelilit be-Yisrael, 2 vols. (1962–65); Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Statistikah shel ha-Mishpatim ha-Peliliyyim (1952– ); idem, Avaryanut ha-No'ar (1960– ). ;S. Ben-Baruch, "Juvenile Delinquency," at www.police.gov.il; G. Eshed, "Organized Crime in Israel and in the World – Processes and Directions," at www2.colman.ac.il/law.
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