Fear of Crime and Terrorism Among Israeli and Swedish Citizens

  • Mally Shechory-BittonEmail author
  • Esther Shachaf Friedman


The objective of the chapter is to broaden the understanding of the determinants of fear of crime and fear of terrorism while expanding the existing literature. Israel and Sweden provide case studies of two countries with a relatively similar population size, whereas their cultures are inherently different in their attitude toward terrorism and refugees. Several conclusions can be drawn from this study. The findings show higher rates of fear of crime and terrorism in the Israeli group than among the Swedes, despite the similar rates of actual exposure to crime. This finding could be explained by the Israeli society’s higher exposure to terrorism. In addition, the comparison between the Israeli and Swedish samples may indicate the significance of cultural explanation in accounting for differences between the two groups, especially with regard to fear of being a victim of crime. It is suggested that the diverse perception of the government’s responsibility for preventing the negative effects and of the “other” as a source of harm may account for the higher rates of fear of crime among Israelies explain this finding.


Israel Sweden Fear of crime Fear of terrorism Neighborhood disorder Social integration 


  1. Amerio, P., & Roccato, M. (2005). A predictive model for psychological reactions to crime in Italy: An analysis of fear of crime and concern about crime as a social problem. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 15, 17–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atran, S. (2003). Genesis of suicide terrorism. Science, 299, 1543–1539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Austin, D. M., Furr, L. A., & Spine, M. (2002). The effects of neighborhood conditions on perceptions of safety. Journal of Criminal Justice, 30, 417–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bennet, R., & Flavin, J. (1994). Determinants of fear of crime: The effect of cultural setting. Justice Quarterly, 11(3), 357–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bensimon, M., Levine, S. Z., Zerach, G., Stein, E., Svetlicky, V., & Solomon, Z. (2013b). Elaboration on posttraumatic stress disorder diagnostic criteria: A factor analytic study of PTSD exposure to war or terror. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 50(2), 84–90.Google Scholar
  6. Bensimon, M., Solomon, Z., & Horesh, D. (2013a). The utility of Criterion A under chronic national terror. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 50(2), 81–83.Google Scholar
  7. Benzion, U., Shaharabani, S., & Shavit, T. (2009). Emotions and perceived risks after the 2006 Israel–Lebanon war. Mind and Society, 8, 21–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bergström, A. (2012). Framställningen av Anders Behring Breivik i svensk textmedia-en granskning. Kandidat uppsats I Lund universitet [Swedish]. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from
  9. Besser, A., Zeigler-Hill, V., Weinberg, M., Pincus, A. L., & Neria, Y. (2015). Intrapersonal resilience moderates the association between exposure-severity and PTSD symptoms among civilians exposed to the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. Self and Identity, 14(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Braun-Lewensohn, M., & Mosseri Rubin, O. (2014). Personal and communal resilience in communities exposed to missile attacks: Does intensity of exposure matter? The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9, 175–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå. (2017). Reported offences. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from
  12. Brück, T., & Müller, C. (2010). Comparing the determinants of concern about terrorism and crime. Global Crime, 11(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Caspit, B. (2013, May 19). So intensified the problem of infiltration into the South Tel Aviv no man’s land. Maariv: “this weekend” [Hebrew]. Retrieved June 25, 2014, from
  14. Chakkour, N., & Johansson, T. (2017). Sweden now has a population of 10 Million. SBC – Statistics Sweden. Retrieved February 18, 2017, form
  15. Chui, W. H., Cheng, K. K., & Wong, L. P. (2012). Gender, fear of crime and attitudes toward prisoners among social work majors in a Hong Kong University. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 57(4), 1–16.Google Scholar
  16. Cook, C. L., & Fox, K. A. (2011). Fear of property crime: Examining the effects of victimization, vicarious victimization, and perceived risk. Violence and Victims, 26, 684–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dear, M. (1992). Understanding and overcoming the NIMBY syndrome. Journal of the American Planning Association, 58(3), 288–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Doeland, E. M. (2012). The influence of terrorist threats on Israeli children and adolescents. Social Cosmos, 3(1), 61–66.Google Scholar
  19. Dougall, A. L., Hayward, M. C., & Baum, A. (2005). Media exposure to bioterrorism: Stress and the anthrax attacks. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 68(1), 28–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. European Commission. (2002). Results of Eurobarometer 58.0: Analysis of public attitudes of insecurity, fear of crime and crime prevention. Brussels, Belgium: European Commission.Google Scholar
  21. Ferguson, K. M., & Mindel, C. H. (2007). Modeling fear of crime in Dallas neighborhoods: A test of social capital theory. Crime and Delinquency, 53, 322–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ferraro, K. F. (1996). Women’s fear of victimization: Shadow of sexual assault? Social Forces, 75, 667–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Finseraas, H., & Listhaug, O. (2013). It can happen here: The impact of the Mumbai terror attacks on public opinion in Western Europe. Public Choice, 156(1–2), 213–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fox, K. A., Nobles, M. R., & Piquero, A. R. (2009). Gender, crime victimization and fear of crime. Security Journal, 22(1), 24–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Franklin, T. W., Franklin, C. A., & Fearn, N. E. (2008). A Multilevel Analysis of the vulnerability, disorder, and social integration models of fear of crime. Social Justice Research, 21, 204–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gal, R. (2014). Social resilience in times of protracted crises: An Israeli case study. Armed Forces and Society, 40(3), 452–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gelkopf, M., Berger, R., Bleich, A., & Silver, R. C. (2012). Protective factors and predictors of vulnerability to chronic stress: A comparative study of 4 communities after 7 years of continuous rocket fire. Social Science and Medicine, 74(5), 757–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gibson, C. L., Zhao, J., Lovrich, N. P., & Gaffney, M. J. (2002). Social integration, individual perceptions of collective efficacy, and fear of crime in three cities. Justice Quarterly, 19(3), 537–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gray, E., Jackson, J., & Farrall, S. (2011). Feelings and functions in the fear of crime: Applying a new approach to victimization insecurity. British Journal of Criminology, 51(1), 75–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hayman, S. (2011). Older people in Canada: Their victimization and fear of crime. Canadian Journal on Aging, 30(3), 423–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Henriksen, C. A., Bolton, J. M., & Sareen, J. (2010). The psychological impact of terrorist attacks: Examining a dose-response relationship between exposure to 9/11 and Axis I mental disorders. Depress Anxiety, 2010(27), 993–1000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hobfoll, S. E., Hall, B. J., Canetti-Nisim, D., Galea, S., Johnso, R. J., & Palmieri, P. A. (2007). Refining our understanding of traumatic growth in the face of terrorism: Moving from meaning cognitions to doing what is meaningful. Applied Psychology, 56(3), 345–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Howes, D. E. (2011). Terror in and out of power. European Journal of Political Theory, 11(1), 25–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Illegal immigration from Africa to Israel. (2015). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 18, from
  35. Jackson, J., Pooler, T., Hohl, K., & Kuha, J. (2011). European Social Survey Trust in Justice: Topline results from round 5 of the European social survey. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from
  36. Jakobsson, U., & Hallberg, I. R. (2005). Loneliness, fear, and quality of life among elderly in Sweden: A gender perspective. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 17(6), 494–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jansson, M., Fors, H., Lindgren, T., & Wiström, B. (2013). Perceived personal safety in relation to urban woodland vegetation–A review. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 12(2), 127–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kemp, A., & Kfir, N. (2012). The politics of reform and the construction of a social problem: Trends in labor migration policy in Israel in the new millennium. Megamot, 48(3), 535–572. [Hebrew].Google Scholar
  39. Klar, Y., Zakay, D., & Sharvit, K. (2002). If I don’t get blown up: Realism in face of terrorism in an Israeli nationwide sample. Risk Decision and Policy, 7, 203–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kleist, J. O. (2017). Pasts and politics: Beyond the boundaries of belonging. In Political memories and migration (pp. 191–211). Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Knudsen, K. (1997). Scandinavian neighbours with different character? Attitudes toward immigrants and national identity in Norway and Sweden. Acta Sociologica (Taylor and Francis Ltd), 40(3), 223–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kullberg, A., Karlsson, N., Timpka, T., & Lindqvist, K. (2009). Correlates of local safety related concerns in a Swedish community: A cross-sectional study. Public Health, 9, 221.Google Scholar
  43. Kury, H., & Ferdinand, T. (1998). The victim’s experience and fear of crime. International Review of Victimology, 5(2), 93–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Larsson, D. (2009). Fear of crime among the poor in Britain and Sweden. International Review of Victimology, 15, 223–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Laufer, A., Shechory, M., & Solomon, Z. (2009). The association between right wing political ideology and youth distress. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 26, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Laufer, A., & Solomon, Z. (2009). Gender differences in PTSD in Israeli youth exposed to terror attacks. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24, 959–976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lindgren, T., & Nilsen, M. R. (2012). Safety in residential areas. Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 103(2), 196–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lindström, M., Merlo, J., & Östergren, P. O. (2003). Social capital and sense of insecurity in the neighbourhood: A population-based multilevel analysis in Malmö, Sweden. Social Science and Medicine, 56(5), 1111–1120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Martens, P. L. (2001). Immigrants as Victims of Crime. International Review of Victimology, 8(2), 199–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. May, D. C., Herbert, J., Cline, K., & Nellis, A. (2011). Predictors of fear and risk of terrorism in a rural state. International Journal of Rural Criminology, 1(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. May, D. C., Rader, N. E., & Goodrum, S. (2010). A gendered assessment of the “Threat of victimization”: Examining gender differences in fear of crime, perceived risk, avoidance, and defensive behaviors. Criminal Justice Review, 35(2), 159–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mellgren, C., Pauwels, L., & Torstensson, L. M. (2010). Neighbourhood disorder and worry about criminal victimization in the neighborhood. International Review of Victimology, 17, 291–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Miceli, R., Roccato, M., & Rosato, R. (2004). Fear of crime in Italy: Spread and determinants. Environment and Behaviour, 36, 776–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pantazis, C. (2000). ‘Fear of Crime’, vulnerability and poverty. British Journal of Criminology, 40(3), 414–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Peretz, S. (2014, January 9). Down town Tel Aviv coming to a boil. Online Harets. [Hebrew]. Retrieved June 25, 2014, from
  56. Perry, B., & Alvi, S. (2011). ‘We are all vulnerable’: The in terrorem effects of hate crimes. International Review of Victimology, 18(1), 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Peterson, M. (1993). Swedish national identity. Political Studies, 42, 492–504.Google Scholar
  58. Pfefferbaum, B. C., Seale, T. W., McDonald, N. B., Brandt, E. N., Rainwater, S. M., Maynard, B. T., et al. (2000). Posttraumatic stress two years after the Oklahoma city bombing in youths geographically distant from the explosion. Psychiatry, 63(4), 358–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rabinowitz, C. J., & Werner Carr, L. (2001). Modern day Vikings: A practical guide to interacting with the Swedes. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press Inc.Google Scholar
  60. Rengifo, A. F., & Bolton, A. (2012). Routine activities and fear of crime: Specifying individual- level mechanisms. European Journal of Criminology, 9(2), 99–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Romanov, D., Zussman, A., & Zussman, N. (2012). Does terrorism demoralize? Evidence from Israel. Economica, 79, 183–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rountree, P. W. (1998). A re-examination of the crime-fear linkage. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 35, 341–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rydgren, J. (2002). Radical right populism in Sweden: still a failure, but for how long? Scandinavian Political Studies, 25(1), 27–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rydgren, J., & Ruth, P. (2013). Contextual explanations of radical rightwing support in Sweden: Socioeconomic marginalization, group threat, and the halo effect. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(4), 711–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rydgren, J., Sofi, D., & Hällsten, M. (2017). Divided by memories? Beliefs about the past, ethnic boundaries, and trust in northern Iraq. Geopolitics, History and International Relations, 9(1), 128–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rydgren, J., & Tyrberg, M. (2016). Social marginalization, ethnic threat, and radical right-wing support in Sweden: A multilevel analysis. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from
  67. Rydgren, J., & van der Meiden, S. (2016). Sweden, now a country like all the others? The radical right and the end of Swedish exceptionalism. In the 23rd International conference of europeanists. Ces. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from
  68. Sagy, S., & Braun-Lewensohn, O. (2009). Adolescents under rocket fire: When are coping resources significant in reducing emotional distress? Global Health Promotion, 16(4), 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sampson, R. J. (2001). Crime and public safety: Insights from community-level perspectives on social capital. In S. Saegert, J. P. Thompson, & M. R. Warren (Eds.), Social capital and poor communities (pp. 89–114). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  70. Sampson, R. J. (2010). Collective efficacy theory. In F. T. Cullen & P. Wilcox (Eds.), Encyclopedia of criminological theory (pp. 802–812). Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  71. Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 918–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Scarborough, B. K., Like-Haislip, T. Z., Novak, K. J., Lucas, W. L., & Alarid, L. F. (2010). Assessing the relationship between individual characteristics, neighborhood context, and fear of crime. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(4), 819–826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Schafer, J. A., Huebner, M., & Bynum, T. S. (2006). Fear of crime and criminal victimization: Gender-based contrasts. Journal of Criminal Justice, 34, 285–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Shechory Bitton, M. (2013). The impact of repetitive and chronic exposure to terror attacks on IIsraeli mothers’ and children’s functioning. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 50(3), 157–163.Google Scholar
  75. Shechory Bitton, M., & Cohen-Louck, K. (2016). Does fear of terrorism differ from fear of crime and sexual assault: A question of geographical location and residential area. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. On line first:
  76. Shechory Bitton, M., & Silawi, Y. (2016). Do jews and arabs differ in their fear of terrorism and crime: The Israeli case. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–20. On line first:
  77. Shechory Bitton, M, & Soen, D. (2016). Community cohesion, sense of threat, and fear of crime: The refugee problem in the eyes of Israeli veteran residents. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice. On line: .
  78. Shirom, A., Toker, S., Shapira, I., Berliner, S., & Melamed, S. (2008). Exposure to and fear of terror as predictors of self-rated health among apparently healthy employees. British Journal of Health Psychology, 13, 257–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Skogan, W. G., & Maxfield, M. G. (1981). Coping with crime. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  80. Svendsen, E. (2009). Cultivating resilience: Urban stewardship as a means to improving health and well-being. In L. Campbell & A. Weisen (Eds.), Restorative commons: Creating health and well-being through urban landscapes. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-39. (pp. 58–87). Newtown Square, PA, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station.Google Scholar
  81. Svendsen, E., & Campbell, L. K. (2008). Urban ecological stewardship: understanding the structure, function and network of community-based urban land management. Cities and the Environment (CATE), 1(1), 4.Google Scholar
  82. Vilalta, C. J. (2011). Fear of crime in gated communities and apartment buildings: A comparison of housing types and a test of theories. Journal of Housing and The Built Environment, 26(2), 107–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wikström, P. O. H., & Dolmén, L. (2000). Urbanisation, neighbourhood social integration, informal social control, minor social disorder, victimisation and fear of crime. International Review of Victimology, 8(2). Special issue: Victims and fear of crime in contemporary Sweden. pp. 121–140.Google Scholar
  84. Wilson, J. Q., & Kelling, G. L. (1982). Broken windows. Atlantic Monthly, 249(3), 29–38.Google Scholar
  85. Zemishlany, Z. (2012). Resilience and vulnerability in coping with stress and terrorism. Israeli Medial Association, 14(5), 307–309.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mally Shechory-Bitton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Esther Shachaf Friedman
    • 2
  1. 1.Criminology DepartmentAriel UniversityArielIsrael
  2. 2.Linneaus University, Institution of Social WorkKalmarSweden

Personalised recommendations