Israeli youths holding mock guns relive the battle for Jerusalem during the six day war in 1967. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA
And Liebermans message perhaps beyond even the divisive legislation that his party championed was no more clearly expressed than in a television debate during last years elections when he attacked Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint Arab List in the Knesset, and one of the most prominent critics of discrimination against Israeli Arabs. Why did you come to this studio and not to a studio in Gaza? Lieberman railed at him. Why arent you standing for election in Ramallah [the main city in the occupied Palestinian territories] rather than in the Israeli Knesset? Why are you even here? Youre not wanted here.
The sense of a growing division on both sides, experts say, has also worked in counterintuitive ways. One hope was that the slow emergence of a new and better-off Israeli Arab middle class might lead to more social mobility and integration. Instead, there is some evidence that the opposite has happened, with new spending power concentrating in gyms and malls, for instance, in Israeli Arab towns and neighbourhoods, reinforcing the separation.
But not everyone is convinced that the growing incidence of xenophobic discourse not least on social media on both sides and the recent evidence of a move to rightwing nationalist policies are necessarily embraced by a majority of Israelis.
Sammy Smooha, an anthropologist and sociologist at Haifa University, who has long studied attitudes in Israel via his Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel, points out that despite an April poll suggesting that 49% of Jews would not want an Arab living in their apartment building, some 90% of Israeli Arabs live in Israeli Arab towns and neighbourhoods anyway. He adds, too, that the most visible and strongly expressed views are confined to the nationalist ends of the spectrum, among both Jews and Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin.
I have spent years trying to understand what is going on in the middle, among the silent majority. There is a willingness there on the part of Jews to accommodate Arabs in schools and neighbourhoods, he said. And Arabs express a willingness to be accommodated in Jewish towns. There is a big gap between attitudes and reality of separation. Is it getting worse over the years? Yes, to some extent I can see that in my surveys for the past 13 years there is less willingness, but still there is still a large willingness.
There is more public expression of hostility on both sides yes.
Paradoxically, on the Israeli Arab side, both Smooha and Scheindlin argue that that has been encouraged by the emergence of a better-educated and wealthier group in Israeli Arab society who are far more willing to speak out about discrimination. Smooha echoes the question asked by 16-year-old Baara Isa in the Himmelfarb school. In the west, there is a civic nationalism that creates an entity say the French people or the American people an idea of people-hood regardless of religion and ethnicity, where all citizens have a common stake. In Israel, that does not exist. There is no civic nation in Israel. Arabs are attached to an Arab national idea and Jews to the Jewish nation.
He agrees with Scheindlin on the influence of Israels ever more right-leaning politics. The current state of the political dialogue is very influential and it is very animating.
What he is less certain about is how far and in what direction that rhetoric is actually carrying Israelis.And for his part, Israels President Rivlin a rightwing politician and member of Netanyahus Likud party, under whose auspices the event at the Himmelfarb school took place has bluntly dramatised what he sees as the growing problem.
Speaking last year at an event to encourage Israels biggest companies to employ more Israeli Arabs in managerial positions, he asked: How many of us Jews know colleagues at work who are Arab? How many of us have true friends who are Arab? How many of us know the agenda of the Arab public, or the differences dividing their society?
A huge gap has grown over the years between two societies that live next to each other and with each other, and yet are blind to each other We must admit the painful truth: namely, that for the majority of Jewish-Israeli society, the Arab public occupies a blind spot.
After Rivlin and Bennett had left the Himmelfarb school, Baraa Isas headteacher, Shireen Natur, remained in the playground with some of her girls for photographs. She hopes that initiatives like Rivlins will crack some of the ice. We are separated. We are really divided. There is racism on both sides. The problem is when you dont know the other and you are afraid, separation is the result.
You know I used to be a Hebrew teacher. For 14 years. Things will only change when Arabs can teach Hebrew in Jewish schools, and Jews can teach Arabic.