Arab citizens of Israel constitute 21 per cent of the country’s population. In April and May 2021 violent conflict erupted between Arab and Jewish Israeli citizens, more severe than ever before. It was manifested on both sides in physical brutality, destruction of property and torching of homes and places of worship. The political leadership on both sides was divided over how to respond. Some tried to restore calm; others tried to use the conflict for political gain and to divide the population. Against this background, a qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews, was conducted among forty Jewish and Arab social workers with the aim of understanding how they viewed their role in the conflict and how they were dealing with it. A thematic analysis revealed three main themes: ‘What’s needed is a social worker who is a leader’; ‘The writing was on the wall’ and ‘The situation could be changed, but…’. The social workers saw importance in their profession’s values of social justice and acceptance of the other but expressed difficulty in acting in a sphere that is defined as political. Recommendations are made for equipping social workers with the necessary tools for acting effectively in times of conflict.