D8.1 Country Report | September 2023

Authors: Sophia Solomon and Kobi Gal – Ben Gurion University of the Negev

This report outlines the main insights from Israel, focusing on the critical themes of collaborative arts and sports media as avenues to challenge ideas of othering and difference in communities. It explores how creative arts and sports organisations across Israel can contribute to dialogue, collaboration, and everyday practices that create a framework around reconciling the grievances that can lead to radicalisation. The report demonstrates the potential for partnerships that bring people from different backgrounds together to create better and more resilient collective futures.

Relying on empirical data drawn from a few sources, including empirical research exploring the relations between sports and society (behavioural psychology, criminology and sociology of sport); sports journalism articles; information from official state reports; former D.Rad reports (D3.1; D3.2). The report will draw insights referencing the impact of sports in developing resilience to anti-social behaviours leading to violence and extremism. The first part (section 2) will offer the existing positions in the field, including arguments of sport as an aid to the personal development of skills and abilities, which create a connection to society and collective resilience. Next, (sections 2.1-2.4) will offer an overview of spaces pointing out an exclusion (peripheral populations, Arabs and other non-Jewish minorities) and discrimination in sports towards marginalised groups (LGBTQ+ and women) and a summary of action steps and events from the last decades, indicating the use of the sports field for inclusion and integration initiatives.

The following section (3) will offer an overview of the dominant projects and programs implemented as part of a policy of inclusion and integration in the community, which aims to encourage participation in sports of minority groups. This section presents state and civic society projects and collaborations between the two as avenues to challenge ideas of othering and difference in communities in Israel (3.1). It is followed by a summary of critical aspects from a group interview of a sports team, specially conducted to prepare this report (3.2). In addition, it also considers some discussion of the I-Gap spectrum (section 3.3) regarding the possibilities for social cohesion under the contemporary challenges of otherness, eventually affecting all layers of the population. Through promoting this understanding, sports engagement might contribute to minimising components of the I-GAP spectrum and set a basis for initialising de-radicalisation pathways.

Finally, the report will present conclusions (section 4) in the light of the reviewed data, offering the central themes that pinpoint the significance of plasticising sports as a source of personal and collective resilience: sports initiatives for community health; sports as a tool for educational availability; and Joint competition games for socialisation. The report will also list several sports programmes specifically designed to challenge aspects of social isolation and build infrastructure for resilience and community cohesion (appendix 1).