Some animals are more equal than others

In one of his posts from the Holy Land, Phil referred to an obnoxious teenager on a bus as an “ars” (Israeli slang for unsavoury young man, inevitably Mizrahi – from the Arabic word for pimp), and Avigdor “Yvette” Lieberman the “Russian” bouncer seems to be a mainstay of liberal discourse about Israel and Israeli politics these days. Phil picked up the slur “Homo Sovieticus” here (probably without grasping its significance).

These are Israeli stereotypes or, more specifically, some of the favourite stereotypes (along with those concerning the settlers and the religious) of Israel’s predominantly-Ashkenazi, secular, liberal, Zionist elite – called Ahusalim by the late Baruch Kimmerling. Apart from their appalling racism, these stereotypes also serve to perpetuate the myth of Israel’s inherent progressiveness and pre-’67 innocence (before all of these “others” came and stole “our” state from us). A good example of this self-delusion and sense of lost entitlement can be found in the recent Declaration of Independence from Fascism, published in response to the government’s proposed “loyalty oath” and other insufficiently-concealed racist bills on the Knesset calendar.

So why do those who claim to seek justice and equality for Palestinians (in the name of anti-racism) embrace racist Israeli stereotypes? Maybe it’s because so much of our information about Israel comes from Israeli sources. Or maybe it’s because we see liberal Israelis as our peers, instinctively trust them and respect their dissident voices, and have trouble separating them from our own. The ’67-paradigm reflected in the two-state solution many of us support (if only in terms of “the art of the possible”) also distinguishes between the theft that most benefited the country’s liberal elite (1948-1967), and the post-’67 theft that most benefited the Third Israel (as well as the First Israel, if only as an alternative and significantly cheaper welfare system – see Y. Shenhav, The Time of the Green Line), creating a false distinction between “good” (liberal Ashkenazi) and “bad” (Russian, Mizrahi and religious) Israelis.

There is a hierarchy of racism in Israel that permeates all discourse – even, and maybe especially, critical, left-wing discourse. Not only is it incorrect to blame Israel’s systemic discrimination on some of its (partial) victims, but to associate the ills of Israeli society – and particularly Israeli racism – with specific subgroups (Russian, Mizrahi, Religious), is in itself racist.

About Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel is a Canadian-Israeli translator living in Italy.
Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

{ 65 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Eva Smagacz says:

    Rubbish. Please allow me to respectfully disagree.

    If criticizing specific socioeconomic groups for their appalling behavior, politics and points of view is racism, then all political discourse is prohibited in the name of respect for humanity.

    Just because Israel’s current society has been hastily concocted by mixing together totally disparate groups of people with nothing in common but religion cannot be used as yet another eggshell one must be aware of when voicing criticism of Israel’s racism.

    Different sub-groups of Israeli society arrived at their sense of entitlement and superiority by different routes. I just cannot see anything inappropriate in teasing out different strands of racism for inspection, if anything, such work may provide a clue to finding more specific tools to fight the racism in each individual layer of society.

    • Elliot says:

      Excellent and useful post.
      Eva, I think you missed the point.
      Shmuel is not speaking against identifying different types of racism, but of sticking pejorative labels on every group – with the glaring exception of the Ahusal elite. This exemption is granted both in Israel and abroad. By generating a multitude of labels, the elite continually deflects attention from itself.
      The mechanism serves our sense of fair play. After all, they can’t all be rotten, can they?

    • Eva,

      Are “Russian”, “Mizrahi” or “religious” socioeconomic groups in the Israeli context?

      How are Lieberman’s poor Hebrew (it’s not that bad actually – but it is comforting to some to think of him as a foreign usurper) and the fact that he was born in the USSR (another way of saying “rusi”) pertinent to his outrageous statement about Sykes-Picot? Is this some sort of reference to his “socioeconomic group” (he is well-to do and university educated in Israel)?

      How is adopting a racist epithet such as “ars” – completely detached from political context – a matter of “political discourse”? Avoiding the racism of others – even if they do say sensible things from time to time – is hardly “another eggshell”, and in fact helps to understand Israel’s racism better and criticise it more honestly and effectively, without being sidetracked by the self-glorification and excuses (by blaming others) of any particular group – particularly the one with which we happen to identify the most.

      I just cannot see anything inappropriate in teasing out different strands of racism for inspection, if anything, such work may provide a clue to finding more specific tools to fight the racism in each individual layer of society.

      That is exactly what I was trying to do.

      • Eva Smagacz says:

        Shmuel,

        I did miss your point about Ashkenazim being given an easy ride when it comes to accusations of racism. I am sorry. Anyone from Europe (or at least Eastern Europe) understands that Ashkenazi Jew – European Goy racism is a two way street.

        Calling different strands of Israeli society “socioeconomic” was clumsy – the diversity, as you point out, is much more – it includes cultural, religious and political backgrounds as well.

        I am just concerned that to confuse all the types of attitudes that people employ to distinguish themselves from other groups in society, be it snobbery, condescension, derision or contempt – be it intellectual, cultural, social, etc, conscious and unconscious, with racism is counterproductive and dilutes the ugliness and dangerousness of the latter.

        I see epithets like “ars”, “rusi” “frecha” being similar to English words like “pikey”, “chav” and “townie” – they define disdain of the working class and they are not racist.

        Personally, I love “homo sovieticus” label. Like “WASP”, or “Sloane Ranger”, it tells you all you need to know about the person’s background and blinkers.

        Intra Jewish Israeli racism will disappear if racist attitudes to Arabs in particular and Goys in general will become as unacceptable in Israel as racist attitudes towards Jews are unacceptable in western world now.

        • MRW says:

          Eva,

          “Intra Jewish Israeli racism will disappear if racist attitudes to Arabs in particular and Goys in general will become as unacceptable in Israel as racist attitudes towards Jews are unacceptable in western world now.”

          I can only add: “if racist attitudes to Arabs in particular and Goys in general will become as unacceptable in the USA.”

          But I’m not holding my breath.

  2. LeaNder says:

    I think you are correct, although I can see why people may want to use it. Latin always seems to feel sophisticated. On second thought, with you guiding my closer inspection, it has a distinct cold war quality. From the right side of history, so to speak. And that is obviously a generalization.

    Charles-Jerry, The Magnus Zionist, published an article by Dimitry Shumsky (Israel’s “Arab Problem,” Part Three – The Israeli Nation-State). His latest book, that Jerry mentions finally made me look for Hebrew classes here in Cologne. Shumsky also seems to be an expert on Russian emigrants in Israel. I doubt I can link directly. His article is not completely online. But scroll down to his conclusion on page 175 were you’ll find the less “sophisticated” version: “soviet man”.

  3. annie says:

    schmuel, racism is never pretty however i have to admit i’m not clearly understanding the context partly because i’m not familiar enough w/israel’s varying sub groups or cultural trends. i don’t really know what homo sovieticus means. i also think there is a difference between racial profiling and archetypes. and there are political and demographic trends. dimi reider wrote an excellent blog post referencing his article on FP blog about israeli russians (he’s an israeli russian, one of my favorite israeli blogers too btw).

    But the macro approach is unavoidable in an international conflict situation, of all the issues surrounding the Israeli Russians, it is our overwhelming leaning to the right of the poltical map that is most crucial to the role we play in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian struggle. To give you a taste of the views rampant and unchallenged in the community, here is a selection of comments on a recent news piece published by Russian-Israeli portal Zman.com. The piece, based on wacky old Irish Sun, alleges the Palestinian Authority was sanctioning uterus removal for mentally incapacitated women who might pass on their condition to their children. Here is what Zman.com readers had to say:

    it’s worth reading in full believe me.

    is “ars” unsavoury young man…. inevitably mizrahi ? really? or is it just ‘unsavoury young man’. i don’t know. do you mean a palestinian arab is not ever an “ars”? for example the term slut is derogatory but when used against a black or hispanic is it more racist than using it against white trailor trash? is saying white trailor trash racist? iow, it is hard for me to judge the level of racism you’re writing about because i don’t know the terms or the culture well enough.

    that said, from my limited knowledge my understanding is the political dynamics of israel changed w/the influx of a million rightward leaning possibly racist leaning russians. my guess is this was by design, that’s my hunch. my experience as an american is that new immigrants are certainly more identifiable and by second third generation these distinctions are harder to identify unless one comes from within those communities and is familiar w/them. if communities are segregated w/separate schools and housing they stay more ‘the same’ and this can breed racism both within the community and the way they are viewed.

    • Annie,

      Sometimes it’s helpful to point out the political trends within population groups and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it is used to distract from the political and ethical tendencies within one’s own group and sometimes it is just meant to be insulting (as in Yossi Gurvitz’ column picked up by Phil). I wonder what Dimi thinks of the hypocritical stereotypes associated with Russians in Israel, and how and when they are applied. This is not the same as trying to deal with disturbing trends within the “Russian” (a catchall for immigrants from the FSU) community in Israel. Try replacing Israeli-Russian with US-Jewish, and I think you’ll see when and where criticism is legitimate and important and where it is simply racist.

      An “ars” can be a Palestinian or even an Ashkenazi, but the stereotype includes unmistakable Mizrahi traits, mannerisms, pronunciation and style of speech, etc.

      • annie says:

        thanks shmuel, i just spent too much time responding to you but an editing it all and starting again tomorrow. it was embarrassing!

        food for thought. thanks for the very interesting post. tomorrow i will tell you more about the russians that used to sleep under my bed during the cold war. luckily we survived.

        • i will tell you more about the russians that used to sleep under my bed during the cold war

          Oh my God! How do you duck and cover if they’re under the bed?

        • annie says:

          when it was dark if i tried to get out of bed the spy might try to grab at my feet.
          ;)

          ok , all humor aside, i suppose my point is we don’t see our own prejudice or we excuse it. i’ve known very few russians in my day although a very dear couple who were like grandparents to me in college influenced me greatly….but they don’t count, neither does dimi even tho he’s one of my favorite bloggers. i’m talking about the psychological impact of systematic fear mongering campaigns and they’re repercussians, even when i know they make no sense and i don’t actually believe them. certainly my parents never instilled any fear of russians.

          they were just america’s enemies my entire childhood. so do they change when they go to israel???? i doubt it!

          anyway i guess my point is that we fear what we don’t know, what we are unfamiliar with, what our imaginations run away with, what we’ve dreamed unawares in 1957, 8, and 9 and don’t remember …and it slips out thru cracks in our consciousness and becomes personified in a person like lieberman who we don’t judge because of the crippled man that he is, but because he fulfills our expectation of our own prejudice, it’s because he’s russian!

          funny that one little post on israel makes me see about myself.

        • annie says:

          ps, it occurs to me people who are not of my generation nor raised in america might be unfamiliar w/ all the russians who hid under our beds.

    • RoHa says:

      “if communities are segregated w/separate schools and housing they stay more ‘the same’ and this can breed racism both within the community and the way they are viewed. ”

      And this is one of the reasons for encouraging assimilation.

  4. tree says:

    I appreciate the Orwell reference in the title, but I think that perhaps the point would be more easily understood if the title read, “Some Jews are more equal that others in Israel”.

    One of the elements of Zionism that has fascinated me, in a negative way, is the inherent anti-semitism within it from its very beginnings. It seems to me that the original Zionism was all about fashioning what it considered an acceptable Jew ( or Hebrew). Jews who chose to live in the “galut”, the Mizrahim, the ultra Orthodox, and later the emigres from the USSR, although needed as demographic fodder, never measured up as “good human material”. I get the impression that the model for the true Israeli Jew they were trying to create is a remarkably Prussian one. Its as if Israel has created its own privileged WASP class, without the Protestantism of course.

    • tree says:

      I’m apparently incapable of writing a post without errors. I meant to write “Some Jews are more equal than other Jews in Israel”. My point being that Israel fails at its professed purpose to provide Jews a safe haven from persecution. You may not be persecuted simply for being a Jew in Israel, but Israel reserves the right to persecute you for failing to be the right kind of Jew.

    • Bumblebye says:

      May I make mischief?
      Perhaps the zionist dream of the new Israeli was intended to be, if not a WASP, then a WASH – white anglo saxon Hebrew?

  5. David Samel says:

    Thanks, Shmuel, for the very enlightening post. Needless to say, many of us are unfamiliar with this type of internal Israeli stereotyping and racism. However, Lieberman’s foreign-ness is certainly a relevant characteristic for criticism because he is asserting his own domination as a foreign-born Jew over an indigenous population. In this sense, his chutzpa is no different than a settler from Brooklyn, but it is galling nonetheless. I understand that those you criticize are not invoking Lieberman’s Soviet origins in this manner, but do you see a distinction where Palestinians take umbrage at this additional insult?

    Also, I followed the link to the Declaration of Independence from Fascism, which, although not racist, does embody the “self-delusion and sense of lost entitlement” you refer to. I noticed some well-respected signatories, including Aloni, Avneri and Nurit Peled. What do you think of their endorsement of this Declaration? Does it surprise you, or is it common to find decent people toeing the ’48 good/’67 bad line?

    • David,

      Virtually all Israeli Jews are immigrants – if not first, then second generation. It’s just one immigrant group calling the next “greeners”. Please watch this classic Israeli sketch about the successive waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine/Israel, and the attitudes of each group to the next one off the boat. Note the Palestinians at the beginning, and how after 5 minutes in the country, Russians, Poles, Yemenites, etc. felt as “indigenous” as the Palestinians (repeating the same Arabic curse, with their respective accents). Which brings me to your next point. Additional “umbrage” by Palestinians, seems perfectly reasonable to me.

      I have great respect for Aloni and Avneri (well, maybe a little less for Avneri), but this declaration is perfectly in keeping with the things they have said and written over the years. Nurit Peled-Elhanan (like her father before her) is a different story, and I’m willing to cut her a lot more slack. I assume she felt it was important to support even a flawed protest against the particularly ill winds blowing in the Knesset and Israeli society.

      • RoHa says:

        “immigrants – if not first, then second generation.”

        By “second generation” do you mean that their parents were immigrants, but they are natives?

        It always seems wrong to use the term “immigrant” in reference to someone who was born in the country.

        • It always seems wrong to use the term “immigrant” in reference to someone who was born in the country.

          I agree, but I think it’s appropriate when said native-born citizen is going around calling others “foreigners”.

        • RoHa says:

          Do you mean ‘calling other natives “foreigners” ‘?

        • Do you mean ‘calling other natives “foreigners” ‘?

          That too, in the case of Palestinians, who are not actually called foreigners, but are treated as if they were. I was referring to a native calling an immigrant (who has the same funny accent as said native’s dad) a “foreigner”.

        • yourstruly says:

          Isn’t what’s being described here, the disdain that different waves of immigrants often have for each other analagous to the American experience where the latest people (religious, ethnic, racial) to arrive are snubbed by those who arrived before them. The Irish potato farmers, for example, and the Poles, Italians, Asians and Jews (with the first to arrive, German Jews looking down upon the later arriving Jews from Eastern Europe)? One other point for MWers to consider – African-Americans, when accused of racism frequently responded by saying that biased attitudes towards some other, unless associated with power (laws, etc.) does not represent racism. If that’s true the use of the term Goy, for example, by Easter European Jews cannot be considerd racist? And finally (or once again), while looking for explanations as to why Jews became racists upon emmigrating to Palestine, has there ever been a colonial venture where the colonizers didn’t become racists?

      • David Samel says:

        Shmuel, the skit was brilliant, even though I did not understand a word of any of the languages. It was hardly necessary. I assume these guys are a prominent comedy duo.

        I picked the three names on the list that I recognized, and have similar feelings about them. Aloni I’m only slightly familiar with, but I’ve read a lot of Avnery – counterpunch publishes his articles. He is often full of interesting insights and connections, even though I disagree with his stubborn refusal to consider the viability of one state. As for the Peled family, Matti was a rare genuine conversion to sanity and Nurit a true moral giant (I’ve only recently read a little bit of her brother). No one, not even a Hebron settler, deserves the anguish she has endured, but it is so sad, and almost predictable, that it happened to her. She was the biggest surprise on the list, and your explanation seems sound. As for Avnery, he might not have used those words, but there does not seem to be anything in the Declaration that he would find objectionable.

      • Elliot says:

        Thanks for the reminder of that classic skit. Thirty years on, it’s just as relevant as when Arik Einstein and Uri Zohar created it.
        There are other immigrant societies that valorized immigration but have dealed differently with the transition from starry-eyed immigrant to dealing with the nuts and bolts. Is there a narrative that expresses the disappointment of immigrants to the U.S. when they find themselves locked into low-paying, stressful jobs, working two or more jobs just to tread water?
        In the case of Israel, part of the problem is that the personal solution of moving to another country, is understood, in Jewish Zionism as fulfilling a Messianic vision. Per Einstein and Zohar, the euphoria of the new immigrants is not because they have arrived in greener pastures, or, because they have found safe haven. They are in ecstasy because they have landed on the shores of the mythical Land of Israel. They break out in song because, in their own minds, they are realizing the 2,000 year old dream.
        Of course, as these immigrants settle into the harsh reality of life on the Holy Land frontier, their previous ecstasy shows up as grotesque: the old-timers are really mocking themselves.
        In addition, a lot of the resentment that the old-timers feel towards the greenhorns is about the preferential treatment the newcomers are about to receive – at the expense of those who came before them. (This comes out in the Hebrew.)

        I remember when the mass Russian immigration came in the early 90s that I was not happy that, as a struggling student, I was required to pay extra taxes to finance the welcome party. It didn’t help that these newcomers were then given choice spots at universities – ahead of me.

        My parents had immigrated to Israel. My own experience shed light on my parents’ stories. My parents had encountered resentment and sourness from the low-paid bureaucrats – many of whom were themselves immigrants – when they came to collect their “new immigrant” benefits.

        • Avi says:

          I remember when the mass Russian immigration came in the early 90s that I was not happy that, as a struggling student, I was required to pay extra taxes to finance the welcome party. It didn’t help that these newcomers were then given choice spots at universities – ahead of me.

          What added and continues to add to the resentment felt by Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews toward Russian Olim is the racism and sense of superiority many of the Russians brought with them.

          Still, Russian Olim of the 1990s didn’t face the hardships of non-Ashkenazim during life in the Ma’abarot. They certainly did not face the kind of racism that Ethiopian Olim have faced since they were whisked away to Israel in operation Shlomo.

          That is to say that while the clip to which Shmuel linked gives one a general idea, it does so while giving the impression that every new wave of Olim faced equal racism or discriminatory hardships.

        • Elliot says:

          Avi,
          I agree with you on the relevance of the Russian and Ethiopian waves of immigration. As you point out, the contemporaneous Russian and Ethiopian waves of immigration were vastly different. The Ethiopians experienced an objectively harsher transition. They were coming from African, village life to a modern society. Culturally, the Russians were much closer to Israel. In addition, similar to the American Jewish establishment, many Ahusal Israelis are of Russian stock.

          The Russians rejected the authorities’ attempts to house them with Ethiopians. I remember racial tension between the two groups. My sense was that this conflict originated back in the old country, mirroring relations between white Russians and the FSU’s Asian republics.

          I don’t know, to what extent there exists specific Sephardic resentment directed against recent Russian immigrants.
          It seems to me that the Sephardim that chose not to assimilate into mainstream, Israeli society i.e. Ovadiah Yosef and Shas are targeting, not the Russians but the Ahusal establishment.

          That is to say that while the clip to which Shmuel linked gives one a general idea, it does so while giving the impression that every new wave of Olim faced equal racism or discriminatory hardships.

          I think the point Uri Zohar and Arik Einstein are making in Loul is not to equate differing levels of hardship but to poke some self-deprecatory fun at the messianic ecstasy of Zionist immigrants that turns sour in the Holy Land.

        • Elliot,

          There is a lot of Sephardi antagonism toward immigrants from the FSU, both for socioeconomic reasons and for cultural/religious reasons – many are not Jewish, and most are culturally non-Jewish, including an insatiable taste for pork (the pork business is booming in Israel). Sephardi anti-Ashkenazi racism also comes into play, of course.

          I think the point of the sketch is that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and one of the easiest ways of doing that is to put down someone who belongs even less than you. This is illustrated especially by the final scene, in which the Georgians [Gruzinim] start shouting at the next group of immigrants the second they hit the beach, and even before anyone else has arrived.

        • Avi says:

          All good points, Elliot. One sentence troubles me, though. You wrote that:

          The Ethiopians experienced an objectively harsher transition. They were coming from African, village life to a modern society. Culturally, the Russians were much closer to Israel.

          I’m sorry, but to claim that the “harsher transition” stems from living in Africa and moving to a “modern” society is inherently biased.

          For the sake of this argument, let’s assume that life in Ethiopia differed to such an extent as to make the transition to Israel difficult, that fact alone still does not justify, nor does it explain, the systematic and institutionalized discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

        • Elliot says:

          Avi,
          I think we agree that the unique challenges the Ethiopians faced in Israel are obvious.
          Regarding your comment on Israeli racism, Israeli paternalism towards the Ethiopians is as old as Zionism itself.
          19th century European-Jewish emissaries joined their Christian missionary compatriots in Westernizing Africa’s natives. For the Jews, it meant acculturating the Bani Yisrael into mainstream Jewry. There is no way the Ethiopians would have reached the starting post for mass immigration to Israel without that groundwork.

        • For the Jews, it meant acculturating the Bani Yisrael into mainstream Jewry.

          Don’t you mean Beta Yisrael?

          As for Jewish colonial meddling, it was not just Zionists. French and Italian Jews were instrumental in implementing the colonial strategy of divide and conquer in their respective countries’ North African colonies – dividing Jews from Muslims, with disastrous results.

        • Avi says:

          I think we agree that the unique challenges the Ethiopians faced in Israel are obvious.

          I suppose. But, you’re killing me with those euphemisms, Elliot, specifically, “unique challenges”.

        • Elliot says:

          Of course, Beta, not Bani. Got my Ethiopians and Indians confused.

          As for Jewish colonial meddling, it was not just Zionists.

          As I wrote, it was European-Jewish and not necessarily Zionist. My comment about Zionism was that it predates the mass immigration of the 80s and 90s.
          On the history of Christian Zionism as the history of modern Europe, see Virginia Clarke “Allies for Armageddon”

        • Elliot says:

          Avi, not euphemesims: not having family, not knowing the basics of Western life, not having any language skills, not having a shared history, and not being accepted as a Jewish community are the unique challenges that Ethiopians faced and Russians did not.
          And, of course, the racism, too.

  6. RoHa says:

    So an “ars” is an arsehole?

    • Avi says:

      It’s pronounced with an ‘Ayn in Arabic. The equivalent letter in Hebrew is pronounced the same, although Mizrahim are usually the only ethnic group to pronounce it properly — unlike Ashkenazim.

      Fast forward to 1:45 to hear the ‘Ayn letter pronounced:

      • RoHa says:

        So in conventional romanisation it would be “9ars”.

        I’m assuming that the “s” is the plain “s”, not the pharygialised (emphatic) “s” conventionally romanised as “S”.

    • So an “ars” is an arsehole?

      No, it’s Arabic for pimp..’a'rs’ is the correct transliteration.

      • RoHa says:

        If it starts with the letter 9ayn that comes before ghayn, and has a hamza in it, the modern transliteration would be 9a’rs. Or, if the final sound is Sad rather than sin, it would be 9a’rS.

        • Roha, the a’yn is rather 3..but this type of transliteration where letters are used as symbols (as in 7 for ha’ etc.) for their approximate resemblance to the Arabic letters is one way which is not widely shared nowadays..As for capital S (used for sadh) as distinct from s ( ‘seen’ rather than ‘sin’ which means tooth) is a first for me..Intersting..
          By the way, the Library of Congress has adopted what I believe being the best transliteration without the recourse to letters.

        • I’m studying spoken Arabic at the moment, and my teacher (a Palestinian) spoke a bit about the transliteration mess, and why he chose the system he did (which closely resembles the “scientific system” used for the transliteration of Hebrew). For my own use, I prefer to transliterate Arabic into Hebrew.

        • RoHa says:

          Never seen 3 for 9ain. 9 has been used for 9ain in Arabic textbooks for at least 40 years.

          Capitals for the emphatics has been around for a long time. It is called the Qalam system, but most users change the original sign for 9ain to 9 because it is easy to confuse the original with the sign for hamza.

          If you didn’t learn your Arabic from a textbook you might not have seen it, but the system was devised to give an accurate transliteration using only the resources of a typewriter.

        • “If you didn’t learn your Arabic from a textbook you might not have seen it”

          No I haven’t as I’m a native so the Arabic I learned was not transliterated. Until now I was not familiar with 9 as a A’yn but for the past 5 or 6 years I’ve started seeing it on blogs used by Arabs, and just when I was closing shop a few minutes ago I found this comment left by a friend on FB where the 3 is used twice:
          “3ashan San Diego?? ya zalameh mafi ba3ed amman”
          3ashan= because..
          ba3ed= after
          Also, the 7 used as a ha’ by the same person here:
          Matensash 7abaybak
          7abaybak= your loved ones

          In any case, all this is new to me and have never seen it written anywhere except on blogs and FB.

        • Avi says:

          To be honest, RoHa, I never bought into the substitution of Arabic numerals for letters of words transliterated into English.

          Much of my reluctance probably has to do with the resentment I have for the bastardization of languages in general. It’s common in many modern languages like Hebrew and English and Arabic. Add to that English language slang and spelling that has its origins in the Internet (e.g. IMHO, YMMV, IRT, WRT, BRB, LMAO, among others), and I find myself simply appalled.

        • RoHa says:

          “I never bought into the substitution of Arabic numerals for letters of words transliterated into English. ”

          I only know of 9 for 9ain in textbooks. It is much clearer than the upside down apostrophe that some books use.

          These other usages of numerals (I’ve been doing a bit of checking on them) seem to be used for texting and the like.

          (I know absolutely nothing about texting in the Arabic language but using Roman script. I don’t even text in English.)

          This is just another young person’s activity. Everything young people do is wrong.

    • occupyresist says:

      You know what’s ironic as hell?

      In and around the Hijaz region, the word ‘jarrar’ جرّار is used to refer to pimps. Today’s the first time I’ve heard of the word عرص.

      Jarrar is a prominent Palestinian family.

  7. Avi says:

    In the author’s view, does pointing to the fact that elements within Israeli society — those that call for the Transfer of Palestinians out of Israel — are recent immigrants from one country or another constitute racism?

  8. yourstruly says:

    Invariably colonialism makes racists of its practitioners, be they Puritans in Pennsylvania who fled from persecution in Europe, Dutch Huguenots escaping oppression by migrating to South Africa, or European Jewish Holoaust survivers who went to Palestine. So looking for unique characteristics that predispose a people to the racism that’s inherent in the colonization of an indigenous other, while it may be interestingly speculative, seems to me to be beside the point. Worse, it can be racist.

  9. Shmuel dear..One observation..I don’t believe the pre-1967 generation of Israelis as more “righteous” than those who followed, less secular more religiously/ideologically oriented, but at least the fformerss were led to believe, with the accord of the UN (via the partition) of the their “right” cause. What excuse is there for those who are, in contravention to all universally admitted laws, are committing the unspeakable, theft, dispossession, destruction and mayhem in broad light today?

    • TGIA,

      In some ways, the ’48 theft was more “understandable” than the ’67 theft; in some ways the opposite is true. Shulamit Aloni calls it the difference between survival and greed. Oren Yiftachel mitigates his characterisation of Israel as an ethnocracy, by calling it an “ethnocracy of refugees”. Settlers like to point out that the vast majority of WB settlements sit on previously uninhabited land (as opposed to actually living in or destroying other people’s homes – as the “leftists” within the green line did and continue to do).

      It is not enough to stop stealing in the present (although it would be a good first step), while refusing even to acknowledge your earlier (and far more devastating) theft. The hypocrisy is far greater when your group gets to keep its spoils, at the expense of a more recent and less privileged bunch of larcenists.

  10. Pixel says:

    This is a great post. Food for serious thought.

    Unlike Phil, who is far more courageous than I am in this way, I often “think” in disparaging, stereotypical terms but rarely ever say them. Phil just puts himself out there. I like that. I admire it and I respect it. It’s far more honest.

    When I think in pejorative terms, the issue isn’t racism. It’s the fruit of something much deeper – hurt, anger, frustration. It’s about my feelings of impotence. It’s about me. Labeling others, even as thoughts, makes me feel powerful.

    • Eva Smagacz says:

      Pixel,

      As long as you challenge your thinking, and put breaks on your behavior your stereotyping is within psychological norms.
      If you act on your prejudice you can do harm to others.