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Israelis fear violence on soccer fields

Despite much-publicized attacks on soccer fields, experts insist that the number of such incidents has actually diminished to the point that more women and children are attending matches.
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The journalist Adi Rubinstein published a particularly pessimistic Facebook posting on Oct. 3. “The sports arena has always served as a fairly accurate indicator of the direction taken by society in general, and it is true in particular of the soccer field,” he argued. “What has been happening in Israel since the beginning of the current [Jewish calendar] year is reminiscent, more than anything else, of the goings-on in Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s. That's exactly how it started [then]. How did it end? Well, we all know.”

With his bleak and discouraging assessment, Rubinstein gives voice to many who see the behavior of Israeli soccer fans as emblematic of the moral decline of Israeli society at large. The impression is that the behavior of soccer fans is becoming ever more extreme, and indeed, the racist and violent incidents in which they are involved are not uncommon. This impression was strengthened following the shocking incident Oct. 3, when a fan of Hapoel Tel Aviv was seriously wounded in a brutal attack with a hammer. The suspects are affiliated with the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team's fan club.

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