How long can Israel depend on Mizrahi docile loyalty? Smadar Lavie asks in new book

Israel/Palestine
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Smadar Lavie's new book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel

Smadar Lavie’s new book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel

Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, by Smadar Lavie. Berghahn Books, April 2014, $39.95

Smadar Lavie’s most recent book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, is an anthropological study of a group of marginalized women, written by a member of this marginalized group, and written for Westerners who, for the most part, know nothing about intra-Jewish racism in Israel.

In the short but packed volume, Lavie describes the demographics of Israel, the power structure, classism and sexism. She tells some of the history of political movements involving the ethnic majority in Israel (Mizrahi Jews), showing how the minority elite (Ashkenazi Jews) suppress political demands. She includes anthropological descriptions and statistics, describes reasons that the majority ethnic group leans politically to the right, and quotes from her diary, giving compelling testimony to the truly bureaucratic torture that impoverished single mothers must suffer in Israel.

Mizrahi Jews, or Mizrahim (pl. Hebrew), are 50% of the population of Israeli citizens. Ashkenazim make up 30% and Palestinians are the remaining 20%. Most Mizrahim have roots in Arab countries, such as Iraq, Yemen, Egypt and Morocco. Many Jews from those countries were generally forced to leave during the 1950s after Israel became a state. In some cases this may have been a response by those countries to the new Zionist state, or the emigration may have been precipitated by the Israeli government, or they chose to leave, but the creation of about 600,000 Jewish refugee immigrants served Israel’s purposes. Israel needed to bring in Jews to replace the 750,000 Palestinians it had forcibly removed from their homes, both to justify the removal of the Palestinians and to replace the labor that had been forced out. Mizrahi means Eastern, but it has come to mean a Jew from a country in which the Jewish population did not speak Yiddish. The term therefore includes Ethiopian Jews, Indian and East Asian Jews, and Jews from Spain and some Slavic countries. Ashkenazim originate in Eastern and Central Europe or the Yiddish speaking parts of Europe. They are privileged in terms of education, employment, positions in the armed forces, housing opportunities and they have many other societal advantages.

Prior to reading this book, I was aware of statements like David Ben-Gurion’s “poor human material” , in referring to Jews from Arab countries [see for example War Without End, by Anton La Guardia]. It was evident that if Israel’s founders based their new country on the premise that one ethnicity is superior to others, then it is no stretch to assume that racism will spread to encompass other ethnicities. If Jews are considered superior to non-Jews, it would not be out of character for the privileged class to believe that certain Jews are superior to other kinds of Jews. In fact, it would be a surprise if there was no evidence of the expansion of racism. Racism is hard to contain, always spilling out over the edges and spreading.

Still, the views expressed by some Ashkenazim quoted by Lavie in her book are stunning: the president of Israel in 1951 said that Mizrahim were unfit for education [p. 56], Mizrahi children are openly called “kushi sambo” (sambo nigger) [p. 14]. And, like Palestinians, Mizrahi single mothers are described as “du-ragli” in Hebrew slang. The literal meaning is bipedal but the word implies a sub-human that walks on two legs.

In fact, Europeans were considered so superior to Mizrahi that during the Soviet immigration period Soviet citizens could easily bypass the requirement of having five maternal Jewish generations in order to immigrate to Israel. Many who were not Jewish falsified their documents, as was known to the authorities who let them in anyway. Lavie states, “Perhaps the absorption authorities were less concerned with Jewishness than with increasing Israel’s Whiteness, or ‘eugenic capability’” [p.37].

Mizrahim, who usually arrived in Israel with next to nothing after their former governments confiscated their possessions in the 1950s, were given housing in the homes that Palestinians had been forced out of a few years earlier, or they lived in tent cities on the front lines between Jordan and Israel. Little or no education was given to children as they were considered too primitive to benefit from formal education. Importantly, education of many Mizrahi children did not include foreign languages. Child labor was common, with children being exploited in the homes of Ashkenazim. Children were exposed to medical experimentation [The Ringworm Affair, p. 79], which killed and injured many.

Mizrahi families were often broken apart: many Mizrahi children were forcibly removed from their parents between the 1930s and 1970s, and the babies given to childless Ashkenazi parents. The practice of taking children from parents deemed unsuitable for parenthood continues today for Mizrahi families, especially those led by single women, who have difficulties providing for their children due to the torturous and exploitative bureaucratic system.

Israeli authorities began a policy of dividing and conquering from the moment Mizrahi Jews arrived in Israel. They already had a lot of practice in this strategy: modeling the European colonial powers, Israel divided Palestinians remaining in Israel into Druze, Christians, Bedouins, Muslims, etc., and set one group against each other [see Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Settler State, by Shira Robinson]. This same strategy was used on Jews of Arab and North African countries, which drove a wedge between the Mizrahim and the Palestinians, who shared language and culture and should have been natural allies. In the Ashkenazi Zionist mind, an alliance between Mizrahim and Palestinians was a dangerous prospect for the continuation of the Ashkenazi political and economic domination in Israel. A Mizrahi-Palestinian coalition in government would spell the end of Ashkenazi control.

The welfare system, which was to provide a safety net, instead gives bureaucrats, opportunities to sexually exploit the women who are forced to show up in person at multiple agencies for help (Lavie offers documentation for this phenomenon, for instance Esther Hertzog’s research, “Who benefits from the Welfare State?” [in Hebrew.]). Rules prevent welfare recipients from owning cars, putting money into a bank, and earning even a substandard wage, making normal commerce difficult and obtaining a job nearly impossible. In 2003, the already insufficient safety net was further eroded by laws in the Knesset.

After the welfare safety net was nearly eliminated, Vicky Knafo, a Mizrahi single mother, began a protest march. At the time, the author was also a Mizrahi single mother in Israel, and experienced first-hand the state system of bureaucracy and exploitation meant to disenfranchise an already marginalized group. Although Vicky Knafo’s protest was prominent news in Israel, few foreign news media covered it – it was not deemed important enough. Since few Mizrahi spoke English or other foreign languages, it was impossible to get international coverage of this grassroots movement for social change. At the same time, the Israeli regime was able to play sectors against one another to cause infighting and divisions.

After weeks of Knafo’s camping out and protesting, a Palestinian suicide bomber struck in Jerusalem, and the news media immediately abandoned the Knafo protest to cover the suicide bombing. Mizrahi single mothers had gained nothing.

The swing to the right in Israeli politics has been largely due to the Mizrahi voting bloc, who overwhelmingly supported right-wing parties such as Likud and more recently Avigdor Lieberman’s racist Yisrael Beiteinu. This is a puzzle: how is it possible that a marginalized, oppressed group supports a party which clearly marginalizes and oppresses another group of people? Lavie says that it is a reaction to years of abuse and disenfranchisement by the Israeli left. It was the left that forced the Mizrahim into downward mobility, expressed vile racism against them and carried out some of the worst practices against their families. The right-wing parties have been those that actually give something tangible to the Mizrahim, such as community renewal projects in the Mizrahi ghettos within Israel.

The Israeli left are the parties who abuse the Mizrahi Jews, yet speak about peace with the Palestinians. Mizrahim understand this hypocrisy. The Israeli left want a two-state solution, in which Israel would give up some of the land in the West Bank to a Palestinian state. Yet most of the settlers living in the West Bank, according to Lavie, are Mizrahim. A peace on those terms would result in large-scale Mizrahi homelessness and is therefore unacceptable to Mizrahim.

Also obviously hypocritical to Lavie and other Mizrahi women are the Ashkenazi feminists who are so patronizing to women of color. Lavie says, in addressing these women belonging to NGOs and philanthropic organizations, “Your feminism is not liberation. It is containment.” [p.136] These NGOs and organizations, like Women in Black, who record human rights abuses against Palestinians at West Bank checkpoints, are part of the Israeli left who talk about peace and the two-state solution but tend to ignore the racism in front of them. These Ashkenazi women who talk about peace are seen as heroes among Jews in the West – showing the vitality of Israeli freedom of expression. Yet, Lavie asks, “How would progressive diaspora Jews – important contributors to civil rights and anti-apartheid movements – react to the revelation of Israeli intra-Jewish racism?” [p.138]

What does this all mean for those of us in the Palestinian solidarity community? The majority ethnic group, the Mizrahi, are marginalized and oppressed by the minority Ashkenazi, but are fiercely chauvinistic. They seem willing to accept their own oppression to protect the state from those who are culturally and even ethnically similar to them. This leaves very little room for optimism. If the majority of the Jewish population are those who could play a pivotal role in bringing about justice in that country, yet are satisfied to be racist, how could their opinions be changed? An effective Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targets those with economic and political power, heads of corporations, governmental policy makers, academics – the Ashkenazim. Those in the lower echelons of society – laborers, unemployed people, welfare recipients – the majority who are Mizrahim and Palestinians, might lose a job due to an effective BDS campaign, but the economy does not rise or fall because of them. Few in the West understand the dynamics and demographics of Israeli society, and so do not challenge the Mizrahim to shift their way of thinking. Without this challenge, there is little incentive to change. This is concerning especially in light of such dramatic recent successes of the BDS movement. Is it possible to create change in that society without the Mizrahim?

However, the book’s last sentence, “How long can the regime depend on Mizrahi docile loyalty to the Jewish state?” implies some optimism. A major threat to Ashkenazi domination and perhaps the key to ending Israeli apartheid could be in forging relationships between Mizrahim and Palestinians on the basis of their shared ethnicity, culture, history and oppression. Lavie does not instruct us on how these relationships could be forged, nor does she help us understand our role in this relationship building. But it is essential that we understand the pervasive racism within Israeli culture.

About Sylvia Schwarz

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100 Responses

  1. ritzl
    July 7, 2014, 1:56 pm

    Thanks for the article.

    Mizrahim and Palestinians are natural political allies in One State Israel.

    When people fear-monger by saying the “destruction of Israel” in a one state context what they are expressing is a fear of that alliance, nothing more.

    • Mikhael
      July 7, 2014, 8:42 pm

      ritzl says:
      July 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm
      Thanks for the article.

      Mizrahim and Palestinians are natural political allies in One State Israel.

      Not really. Israeli Jews of Mizrahi background collectively identify with their fellow Israeli Jews (and Jews from outside Israel), whether Ashkenazi, Sefaradi, or whatever other background, as members of their national community, not non-Jewish Arabs. Almost invariably Israeli Jews whose parents and grandparents fled to Israel from Arab countries, mingle, marry and mate with with their fellow Israelis who happen to be of Ashkenazi background (producing such handsome and clever specimens like yours truly), rather than Arabs. Because of the prevalence of marriages between Israeli Jews of different Diaspora heritage, the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi/Sefaradi divide is fading away and won’t exist in a few decades’ time. The Arab-Jewish divide will persist, though.

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2014, 10:17 pm

        @Mikhael-

        A) I really shouldn’t have written “natural.” More like “hold-your-nose” opportunistism.

        B) One State is upon you all. Choices will have to be made between
        ’80s sectarian Lebanon, embrace of some [identifiable, even now] political seam of a possible peaceful outcome to Israel’s assimilation/annexation of 3-5M Palestinians, or ’47-’48+ redux. I always hear or read the first and last put forward by pro-Israel types as the only possible One State options/outcomes. I’m suggesting another way. Your choice.

      • Walid
        July 8, 2014, 1:49 am

        “Mizrahim and Palestinians are natural political allies in One State Israel.”

        You were not wrong, ritzl, problem with not accepting this fact as Mikhael is doing is due either to plain denial because it goes against the Zionist narrative or because the Israeli authorities so succeeded in their de-Arabising efforts to the point of having people like Mikhael firmly believe it never existed and never will. Mikhael is evidently ashamed of his Mizrahi roots and relieved that he’s the product of a mixed marriage.

        Another into heavy denial is the “I proud of Israel” fluently Arabic-speaking Mahane, of Iraqi Kurdish Mizrahi roots that most probably lived with his parents in tent cities when they arrived in Israel, that refuses to acknowledge the horror stories of how they were mistreated on their arrival, the Yemeni Jewish baby kidnappings to provide children to childless Ashkenazim couples and the infamous irradiation experiments conducted on Mizrahi children by Israel for money in the early 50s that Lavie discusses in her book.

        It’s a fact that Mizrahim had to live their Arabic culture in secret for years to avoid being penalized in Israel. I’m guessing Mikhael parents or grandparents are of this background.

      • Mikhael
        July 8, 2014, 2:34 pm

        Walid says:
        July 8, 2014 at 1:49 am
        the Israeli authorities so succeeded in their de-Arabising efforts to the point of having people like Mikhael firmly believe it never existed and never will.

        To be “de-Arabized” one must first be “Arabized”. “Arabization” actually is an apt word. Long ago, the Jews of the Levant, Maghreb, Mesopotamia and Yemen/Hadhramaut, actually were Arabized at one point–that is, they either had Arabic language and culture imposed on them or were assimilated into it. But the Arab nation and culture was not their own. That’s why the traditional Jewish term for Arabic-speaking Mizrai Jews, in Eretz Yisrael and elsewhere, was “Mustarabim”–i.e.., Arabized Jews (and not Arab Jews) .

        Mikhael is evidently ashamed of his Mizrahi roots and relieved that he’s the product of a mixed marriage.

        Sure, I’m so ashamed of being of partial Mizrahi-Jewish heritage that I mention it all the time. I suppose I am proud of my Mizrahi and Ashkenazi heritage (although one should really only be proud of one’s own accomplishments and not one’s ancestors), especially as I can count some of the Safed Kabbalists and a Rishon Le-Siyyon (Sephardic chief rabbi) among them. I’m equally proud of my Ashkenazi (Hungarian-Jewish) background. Walid, you seem to think that Ashkenazi descent is something to be ashamed of. I don’t agree with you. When my parents married in the mid-1960s, such unions were relatively rare, but they were already increasingly becoming more common. Today, marriages between different Israeli Jews with roots in the different parts of the Diaspora are at around 40%.

        other into heavy denial is the “I proud of Israel” fluently Arabic-speaking Mahane, of Iraqi Kurdish Mizrahi roots that most probably lived with his parents in tent cities when they arrived in Israel,

        It’s sweet that you mention Mahane so much. I think you have a crush on him. If I was him, I’d be flattered. I don’t know the guy (maybe I’ll look for his stall next time I am in the market), but if he is of Kurdish Jewish background, the language his family spoke immediately prior to their aliya was likely neo-Aramaic (lishna didan), possibly with Arabic as a second language. If he is Israeli-raised, any Arabic he has most likely comes from school or friends or self-study. I know a lot of Ashkenazim who also speak fluent Arabic. Whether an Israeli is of Mizrahi, Sefaradi or Ashkenazi ancestry, it’s great to know Arabic. It’s always good to know any foreign language.

        Iraqi Kurdish Mizrahi roots that most probably lived with his parents in tent cities when they arrived in Israel,

        Yup. Jewish refugees from Arab countries were housed in maabarot, tent cities, alongside Jewish refugees from Europe, in the impoverished Israel of the 1950s.

        …the Yemeni Jewish baby kidnappings to provide children to childless Ashkenazim couples

        Something that was investigated by no fewer than four government committees with no evidence of any conspiracy to kidnap Yemenite-Jewish children uncovered. Exactly two cases of Teimoni children adopted by Ashkenazi couples were discovered, and it seems this was arranged by a corrupt social worker. Post-WW2, some 2,000 Irish babies were taken from their unwed mothers by the Church in collusion with the government and sent away for adoption against their mothers’ consent, in Australia, the same thing happened with Aboriginal children. In Israel, there’s evidence of exactly two instances of such abuses.

        the infamous irradiation experiments conducted on Mizrahi children by Israel for money in the early 50s

        Israel was guilty, in the early 1950s, of being stuck in the scientific mindset of the early 1950s, when X-Rays were considered to a safe and effective treatment for ringworm infection. Israel treated immigrant children suspected of having ringworm with this procedure, as this was considered advanced and harmless procedure and was being used in the Americas and Europe for decades. Ashkenazi immigrant kids ( from Romania, Poland and elsewhere) who were suspected of having ringworm infections in their scalp were also subjected to this alleged “irradiation experiment”. With 21st century hindsight, modern medicine now knows that X-raying the soft tissue around a kid’s skull without lead protection is not a good idea, they were less sophisticated in the ’50s.

        It’s a fact that Mizrahim had to live their Arabic culture in secret for years to avoid being penalized in Israel. I’m guessing Mikhael parents or grandparents are of this background.

        Like many old Jerusalemite families, Arabic was but one of many linguistic strands in our Mizrahi family–in my paternal grandmother’s Jerusalem home (her family had lived there for about a century, prior to Jerusalem, they lived in Galilee)–Ladino, Arabic, French and later modern Hebrew were all used interchangeably, sometimes in the same sentence. My grandfather was initially raised in more of a “pure” Arabic-speaking environment, at least in early childhood–his parents came to Jerusalem from Aram Soba (Alleppo) and Damascus in the late 19th century. Far from being ashamed and hiding his Arabic fluency, and worrying about being penalized for it, his native knowledge of the lingo was put to good use monitoring Arabic radio communications for the Etzel underground and later, the IDF. My father’s uncle taught Arabic language and literature in Israeli schools. My father understood it perfectly, but never spoke it well. Nobody kept anything a secret.
        I was raised both in the States and Israel, I’ve studied it formally and informally at various stages of my life in both countries. I can read it with difficulty and have always wanted to perfect my very imperfect Arabic, as it is a useful language to know. But it certainly doesn’t “belong” to me, even if some of my ancestors once spoke it well, any more than Hungarian belongs to me, just because my mother grew up in a Hungarian-speaking home. Hebrew-speaking Israeli Jews, have no national connection to the Arab people nor the Magyar people.

      • Mikhael
        July 8, 2014, 1:11 pm

        ritzl says:
        July 7, 2014 at 10:17 pm
        Choices will have to be made between
        ’80s sectarian Lebanon, embrace of some [identifiable, even now] political seam of a possible peaceful outcome to Israel’s assimilation/annexation of 3-5M Palestinians,

        If there is one state between the river and the sea, the only possible outcome is the sectarian slaughter of Lebanon in the 1970s or Iraq and Syria of today. Maybe the best-case scenario is Bosnia in the early 1990s. We won’t bite and go down that road, although the delusional Eretz Yisrael ha Sheleima crowd thinks they can have all of the 1949-1967 formerly Jordanian-occupied Yehuda and Shomron (although we almost certainly shall be keeping a nice-sized hunk of it — there’s just no way Israel will return to the 1949 armistice lines.

        or ’47-’48+ redux.

        If the Arabs are stubborn and want 1947-1949 redux– that just might be what happens. I hope the Hashemites are ready to deal with another influx, they have their hands full with Syrians and Iraqis. They’d be better off accepting what is attainable.

        I’m suggesting another way. Your choice.

        Israel will need to keep most majorly populated Jewish areas of the Green Line (e.g., Gush Etzion, Givat Zeev, Maaleh Adumim, Moddin Ilit as well as the mostly JewishJerusalem neighborhoods (e.g., French Hill, Gilo, Har Homa, etc.). Residents of other Jewish-populated towns and villages built after 1967 outside these major blocs and located too deeply within Arab-populated areas (e.g. Qiryat Arba, Alon Moreh, Beit El), or which had their Jewish populations reestablished post-1967 (e.g., the reestablished Jewish community of Hebron, which was destroyed in 1929 and renewed in 1968, or Kibbutz Kalya, whose population was ethnically cleansed by Jordan in 1948 and resettled in the 1970s) will unfortunately need to be evacuated into the Jewish state, unless they are willing to risk their and their families’ lives by living under Palestinian Arab Muslim rule (assuming that such an offer is made to them). There would be more than enough left over for the Palestinian Arabs to build a state of their own, although Israel will also need to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley and along the Samarian Ridge. They won’t get more than that, and they won’t get any of the Israeli capital, Jerusalem, and their demand to flood Israel with potentially millions of Arabs claiming to be ’48 refugees under some delusional al ‘Awda scheme will most certainly not be met.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 3:37 pm

        Gosh Mikheal! There’s just so much for everybody in Palestine! When the solution does come, it’ll be just like dividing a gold mine!

      • ritzl
        July 8, 2014, 5:29 pm

        Well, Mikhael. You sure did choose. You chose killing over resolution or sharing. Don’t most humans learn about sharing at age two or so?

        If the Arabs are stubborn and want 1947-1949 redux– that just might be what happens. I hope the Hashemites are ready to deal with another influx, they have their hands full with Syrians and Iraqis. They’d be better off accepting what is attainable.

        A perfect example of your diseased, peace-of-the-grave, apocalypse-as-first-principle thinking. The Christian Zios must really, really love you. You’re an end-timer’s wet dream.

        I assume by “stubborn” you mean if they keep demanding their legitimate human and political rights within the system that violently took their land and now violently controls every aspect of their lives. So your view is that if that happens you’ll [have no choice but to] cleanse or kill or otherwise genocide them.

        Well at least you’re clear about that. The rest of your comment is just noise to me. Deadly, destructive noise, but noise nonetheless.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 7:26 pm

        “The Christian Zios must really, really love you. You’re an end-timer’s wet dream.”

        Yes, all their daughters want to marry him.

      • Taxi
        July 9, 2014, 12:26 am

        Michael,

        “Long ago, the Jews of the Levant, Maghreb, Mesopotamia and Yemen/Hadhramaut, actually were Arabized at one point”

        The original hebrews were born and bred in the Arabian deserts – this makes them Arab.

        That’s history, man. Your version is fairy dust.

        Real jews are Arabs.

        Like it or not.

  2. Yitzgood
    July 7, 2014, 2:01 pm

    Mizrahi Jews, or Mizrahim (pl. Hebrew), are 50% of the population of Israeli

    50% of the population or 50% of the ancestry of the population? Israelis of mixed Ashkenazi-Sefardi ancestry are quite common.

    • Mooser
      July 7, 2014, 2:45 pm

      “Israelis of mixed “

      I’m sorry Yitzgood, how are they “mixed”? Aren’t they 100% Jewish? I don’t see where the “mixed” comes from.

      • Yitzgood
        July 7, 2014, 8:18 pm

        Aren’t they 100% Jewish? I don’t see where the “mixed” comes from.

        Use whatever word you want. The post gave statistics for Ashkenazi and Mizrachi Jews. How does a Jew fit into these statistics if his mother’s family is from Ukraine and his father’s family is from Iraq?

      • Mikhael
        July 7, 2014, 8:26 pm

        Aren’t they 100% Jewish? I don’t see where the “mixed” comes from

        What don’t you understand? Yitz quite clearly wrote “Israelis of mixed Ashkenazi-Sefardi ancestry are quite common,” a sentence that doesn’t imply that such people are anything less than 100% Jewish.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 3:38 pm

        “a sentence that doesn’t imply that such people are anything less than 100% Jewish.”

        Gosh, then why would they be treated any differently than any other Jews in Israel?

      • AbigailOK
        July 8, 2014, 5:35 pm

        1. Arab descent, not Eastern European or European. Bigotry and racism = zionism.
        2.Most Mizrahi Jews were very observant Jews when arriving. With an enormous heritage and culture. A big Yikes in the eyes of Askkenazi zionists who wanted to do away with Judaism in general and basically replace it with zionism which is impossible but, hey, you cannot be smart always, right?
        3. Most of their skin color maybe? Wild guess.

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 2:31 am

        Mooser says:
        July 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm

        Gosh, then why would they be treated any differently than any other Jews in Israel?

        Except in today’s Israel, Mizrahim aren’t treated differently because they’re Mizrahim. If you actually had any familiarity with Israeli society and didn’t merely pretend to be knowledgeable about Jewishness in general by misusing a Yiddish word, you’d know that.

        For a time in the early years of the state, as Israel was absorbing multitudes of Jewish refugees, the predominantly secular Labour Zionist establishment marginalized Mizrahi ‘olim hadashim, just as they marginalized Orthodoxt Jews who shared their same Eastern European cultural background, and those who tended to support Revisionist Zionism (e.g., most of the Mizrahim). Far from being unique to Zionism or a product of it, this kind of sociological phenomenon is e typical group dynamics you’ll find in any society. Those in positions of power who belong to veteran populations tend to favor those who they perceive to be culturally closer to them (in the Old Yishuv, in the late 1700s/early 1800s when the Sefaradim were establishment in Jerusalem, Ashkenazi newcomers and institutions were often doled out a much smaller slice of the Jewish communal pie by the Sefaradim in charge of such things).

        Anti-Sefaradi/Mizrahi bigotry certainly still does persist, however, in some segments of Israeli society. It is prevalent in far left anti-Zionist circles, which are predominantly comprised of Israelis of Ashkenazi background. (Radical “Sfonbonim ” and kibbutzniks, usually.)

        To a much lesser extent, in certain quarters of Israeli haredi society there is discrimination of Mizrahi haredim by Ashkenazi haredim–in so-called “elite” Ashkenazi haredi families whether in the hassidic world or the mitnagdim cirrcles, shiddoukhim (matches) between Ashkenazim and non-Ashkenazim are looked askance at. At the top Ashkenazi-dominated yeshivot, there seems to be a cap on the number of non-Ashkenazi rabbinical students.

        Outside of these examples (and it’s not clear-cut there either) communal distinctions between different groups of Jews in Israel is fading fast through marriage. I and my daughters are typical of most 21st century Israeli Jews–neither Ashkenazi nor Mizrahi.

    • Naftush
      July 8, 2014, 7:54 am

      You got it. In Israel’s early years, this bifurcation was documented on the basis of father’s continent of origin (Asia-Africa vs. Europe-America). 2+ generations of ethnic exogamy rendered the distinction statistically insignificant by the late 1980s. I suspect the author of the book of inflating anecdotes into unwarranted conclusions.

      • AbigailOK
        July 8, 2014, 5:45 pm

        What you state is so not true.
        Listening and having listened to so many Mizrahi young, middle aged and elderly Jews who were not tsabres (born in Israel) already from the seventies on (me, that is), Lavie’s book is the truth.

        However much some Israelis do not want anybody to know that. Even to this day there are trials by people who were given away to Ashkenazi parents but were originally stolen from a.o. Yemeni Jewish parents (Mizrahi, you know..) because the latter were orthodox. Those parents were told their children had died. Welcome to Israel. They escaped the camps but their children got kidnapped/stolen/irradiated in some experiments, by other Jews. But of course, no one gives that a thought nowadays in Israel. Most crimes are shoved under the zionist carpet because there is so much more crimes which were committed against Jews. Anecdotes? How dare you, unconscionable …..(censored). You may do away with the first three letters of your nickname.

      • Naftush
        July 9, 2014, 6:46 am

        Bingo, Abigail. I accused Lavie of basing her book on anecdotes and you reply: “Listening and having listened to so many …” You can’t get more anecdotal than that. The rest of your daunting rant makes it hard to pigeonhole you. A Satmar-influenced frequenter of MW? First, you cannot hide Yemenite-Jewish children with Ashkenazim just so; they — pardon my racism — look different. Second, I know of no “trials” in the matter, least of all any that are continuing today. Third, Yemenite Jews didn’t need to “escape the camps”; Israel strained all its resources to empty the camps. Fourth, I don’t need to “dare” beyond what four commissions of inquiry “dared,” all of which dismissed your allegations. Your reference to zionist [sic] “crimes” is redolent of the axiomism that passes for erudition on MW, no more. I’ll keep the whole of my screen name, thank you.

      • Walid
        July 9, 2014, 8:43 am

        About those Yemeni Jews whose children were abducted by Israel and given to childless Ashkenazim couples, from the Baltimore Sun a few years back; Israel has a track record of such acts:

        After 48 years, DNA test reunites Yemenite Jews Hopes bolstered for others who lost children, siblings in immigrations to Israel

        August 28, 1997|By Ann LoLordo
        SUN FOREIGN STAFF
        JERUSALEM —

        Two years ago, Tsila Levine, a California teacher, saw a television program about the disappearance of Yemenite Jewish children during a 1940s wave of immigrations to Israel. Her search for her biological parents took a new turn.

        It led her back to Israel, to the office of a Tel Aviv-area lawyer, who published her picture in local newspapers. Soon, 15 Yemenite families claimed her as their missing daughter.

        But Margolit Amosi was certain.

        “I don’t care if 40 families say you are their daughter, I gave birth to you. Don’t you ever forget it,” she told her.

        This week, the results of a DNA test proved Amosi right.

        News of the reunion bolstered the hopes of other Yemenite Jews whose children or siblings were believed dead or missing.

        It also refueled conspiracy theories that have circulated for decades in Israel over the disappearance of these children who came to Israel from Yemen a half-century ago. The most recent government inquiry put the number of missing at 687, but officials with a Yemenite Jewish federation believe it could exceed 2,000.

        Levine’s reunion with her mother “proves what we’ve been saying all along,” said Yaacov Ben Shalom, 46, of Jerusalem, who says he has four brothers among the missing. “It gives me hope that my brothers will be found as well.”

        The disappearances, formally investigated twice, call attention to the discrimination and mistrust between the two main streams of ethnic Jews, those of European ancestry known as the Ashkenazi and their Sephardic countrymen who emigrated from Arab countries.

        Many in the Yemenite community suspect that the children were whisked away from immigration camps or hospitals and offered for adoption. Allegations of baby-selling prevail, with claims of childless Ashkenazi couples paying $5,000 for a sick or needy Sephardic infant.

        Levine knows nothing of these charges. In testimony yesterday before a state investigative panel, she told her story.

        As a 6-year-old growing up on a kibbutz near the northern city of Haifa, she learned from a schoolteacher that she had been adopted. The parents she adored, Anda and Mordechai Rosenstock, were not her biological mother and father. Levine never discussed her adoption until her father’s death in 1967.

        Then her mother told Levine that a pediatrician offered she and her husband a chance to adopt a baby in 1948. He wanted a son. But as he walked past the cribs, a dark-skinned little girl smiled at him. Rosenstock chose the smiling baby and called her Tsila.

        Her mother said she knew nothing of her daughter’s birth: “The deal was, you got a baby and no questions asked.”

        When Israel opened adoption records in 1976, Levine’s adoptive mother encouraged her to search for her birth mother. She went to a state welfare office, but a clerk found no records…

        http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1997-08-28/news/1997240144_1_yemenite-jews-israel-adoption

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 7:22 pm

        .” 2+ generations of ethnic exogamy rendered the distinction statistically insignificant by the late 1980s. “

        And what was the significant distinction in the first place? And I thought all Jews were pretty much equal. It took Zionism to make us realize that some are, well, more equal than others. Hooray for ZIonism!

      • ritzl
        July 8, 2014, 7:35 pm

        Mooser, OT but you mentioned a few days ago that your attitudes had, iirc, “hardened.” Your deeply-informed wit is cryptic to me, but a week(s) later becomes understandable and enlightening.

        Are you going to explain what changed (if only as a puzzle key) or should we wait as the nuance unfolds bit by bit? Very sincere question, asked only because I remember you seemed pretty definite in your beliefs before you left.

        Don’t burn out.

      • Naftush
        July 9, 2014, 6:47 am

        Mooser, visit Wikipedia and find out what statistical significance means.

  3. Danaa
    July 7, 2014, 2:21 pm

    I could not agree more with many of the sentiments expressed in this piece – and am looking forward to reading the book. It is about time that the well-meaning people in the west – on all sides, left and right – woke up to the pervasive racism endemic to Jewish society in Israel.

    I said before that what we have in Israel is not so much a racist society (which it is, to be sure) but worse – a caste system that was deliberately developed and foisted upon the population through decades of a highly subversive educational system . The Mizrahi, from day 1, were treated as a lower caste – something well below the lowest of Ashkenazi immigrants (say, those from Bulgaria) – but a goodly smidgen above the native palestinian residents, who, in turn are considered an Israeli version of India’s Dalit – “untouchables”. their culture – such as it was – was considered “inferior”, their ways “primitive”, their speech “vulgar”, their version of Judaism – “peculiar”. Of course, we all loved to go to yemenite weddings (and if we were never invited to one, pretended we did), but that’s another story. It wasn’t just their different ‘color’ – it was their entire state of being-Arab that was, to us, superior ashkenazi children, kind of repulsive.

    I recall that in the entire years I spent growing up in Israel, we, of the Ashkenazi population, did not intermingle or even meet young people of Mizrahi descent. they did not go to “our” schools and we “knew” their schools were more “religious”, and generally of much lower quality. How did we know/ who said that? was there any formal prohibition on “mixing”? no – but it was not necessary. What there was is a seemingly natural recoil – not because they were ‘darker” (after all, we spent most of the time on beaches trying desperately to get that deeper color which they came to naturally), but because they were, well, “not cultured”, or “not so clean”, or “not really one of us”. Most importantly because, like in all caste-based societies – it just wasn’t done. No one thought or talked about the reasons why we were not to mix, but we all knew what the unspoken rules were.

    Interestingly, many of us met Mizrahis for the first time in the IDF, where suddenly, “they” were all around. usually in occupations deemed “lesser” – they were the cooks, the guards, the military police, the drivers, the busboys in the officers’ cafeterias. Sometimes car mechanics or warehouse workers. In other words, they were the “shoe-shine” boys – and, of course, a ready-made “canon fodder” for israel’s battles. Sure enough, when I rebelled during my own service, one form the rebellion took, was to announce that i only date non-officers, and that in fact, I rather prefer “cooks” and other “working people” (well, I invented terms as I went along). This, believe it or not, was considered outrageous conduct, which, of course, was the point (I wish I could say it implied an emerging political conscience – alas, at the time – this was just typical, in your face, israeli behavior, meant to showcase disgust with the way women soldiers were treated in the Israeli military – basically as ‘socialization material”. So I did my own form of “socializing”). Alas, such relationships that were developed during service – mine included – did not last very long. By the time we (some of us) went to University, or started a work life – it was back to our all-encompassing, ever so cozy Ashkenazi groupings. Again, to my lasting shame, I must confess that the one – and only – student of Mizrahi descent I met as a student days – a rather nice fellow – did not get much more than a passing glance from a not very enlightened previous version of my self. I thought it was interesting he was there, and was mildly curious, but the taboos were just too strong, and my own courage was perhaps more for show than real substance 9at least that’s what it looks like, looking back, not very rosily).

    I know things have changed somewhat in israel – more Mizrahi are educated now, have university degrees, work at “white collar” jobs and there are more than a few cases of “inter” marriage. But have things really changed that much, I wonder? this book, and Sylvia’s review, say that changes in the intervening decades since my time, were more superficial than foundational, and I am inclined to believe that, based on what I know of that society’s sinner structures. I do wish more people spoke up about the intricacies of intra-Jewish separation (which goes deer than racism, IMO) – then and now. I am tantalized by the possibility that the mizrahim may have a very significant role to play in any potential rapproachment with the palestinians, but realize this would take herculean educational outreach efforts. Still, I also think the “left” of the “West” should pay a heck of a lot more attention to that segment of israel’s society, and especially to the very disturbing undercurrents of a caste-like class-based society there. After all, whatever happens in Israel seems to have a way of infecting America, so if for no other reason, some serious attention is warranted to what makes that society “tick” and tick so out-of-tune.

    • Mikhael
      July 7, 2014, 9:51 pm

      The Mizrahi, from day 1, were treated as a lower caste – something well below the lowest of Ashkenazi immigrants (say, those from Bulgaria)

      NB: Jews whose ancestors formerly lived in Bulgaria are mostly of Sefaradi and not Ashkenazi heritage. Descendants of Sefaradi/Mizrahi families that were part of the Old Yishuv society tended to enthusiastically embrace Zionism as much as their fellow Mizrahim/Sefaradim who came later as olim hadashim from the 1950- 1970s, and were integrated into the power structure from the beginning, consider people like Bechor Sheetreet and Shmuel Toledano. To the extent that Mizrahim were marginalized, it’s almost completely a thing of the past, it breathed its last gasp in the early 1980s, and reflected a dynamic common in most societies, where groups that were once in a position of power do everything possible to retain it for as long as possible. In the Old Yishuv, Mizrahim and Sefaradim were at at a higher socioeconomic level relative to the newer Ashkenazi arrivals (I’m talking about the haredi Ashkenazim who first began arriving in large numbers in the 1700s) and sought to exclude those more recent Ashkenazi arrivals from positions of power in the Jewish community. Another reason for the disenfranchising of non-Ashkenazim was the dominance of Mapai in all its incarnations until 1977, when the vast majority of Mizrahim had right-wing sympathies. Even in the 1940s, pre-State, the Etzel and the Revisionists overflowed with non-Ashkenazi Jews.

      I know things have changed somewhat in israel – more Mizrahi are educated now, have university degrees, work at “white collar” jobs and there are more than a few cases of “inter” marriage. But have things really changed that much, I wonder?

      Yes. Things have really changed that much. The “shed ha edati” and anti-Mizrahi bigotry persists among extreme anti-Zionist/post-Zionist ultra left-wing radical types, who are overwhelmingly Ashkenazi, and to a lesser extent among certain segments of the haredi sector (mainly in the so-called “Lithuanian” yeshiva world), who have been known to discriminate against Sefaradi/Mizrahi students in their educational institutions. Otherwise, the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi/Sefaradi divide is mainly of interest to people like the Mondoweiss fellow travelers, who try (and fail) to stoke intra-Jewish tensions, whilst ignoring the head-chopping intra-Muslim disunity.

      • AbigailOK
        July 8, 2014, 3:01 pm

        @ Mikhael http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/apartheid-occupation-committed.html?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=4ba2b06f88-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-4ba2b06f88-398415525

        For anyone’s knowledge: the terms “leftist” or “radical-leftist” “extreme anti-Zionist ultra left-wing” are all day-to-day terminology used by the official israeli hasbara institutions and its employees. It means”enemies of the state” i.e. people who are against the zionist state of Israel and its practices. Which has all the hallmarks of an Apartheid state.

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 2:45 am

        AbigailOK says:
        July 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm

        For anyone’s knowledge: the terms “leftist” or “radical-leftist” “extreme anti-Zionist ultra left-wing” are all day-to-day terminology used by the official israeli hasbara institutions and its employees. It means”enemies of the state”

        Leftist ideals put into practice can be a good thing, in moderation (universal healthcare, anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, etc. are usually thought of as “leftist” concepts, at least in an American context, and I thing these are good things). Radical leftism is almost always a bad thing, and certainly always is a bad thing in an Israeli context. Being an enemy of the state is also a bad thing. No state is perfect and worship of a state is wrong, but in a system of modern nation-states, a Jewish state is an absolute justice for the Jewish People and a rectification of history. The Israeli state protects me and keeps me and my family safe. It guarantees a refuge to Jews anyplace in the world in their own national home. Those who oppose the existence of the Jewish nation-state of Israel and seek its undoing are in a very real sense my enemy, and I take it very personally, as I would literally not have been born if Israel did not exist.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 9, 2014, 3:05 am

        iow, what AbigailOK said, the terms “leftist” or “radical-leftist” “extreme anti-Zionist ultra left-wing” are all day-to-day terminology used by the official israeli hasbara institutions and its employees. It means”enemies of the state” is likely correct. and for the most part you agree with it.

        No state is perfect ….a Jewish state is an absolute justice … The Israeli state protects me… Those who oppose … are in a very real sense my enemy, and I take it very personally, as I would literally not have been born if Israel did not exist.

        okkkkkay. none the less, ethnic cleansing, like genocide, is wrong and criminal. palestinians take it very personally. and excuse my chutzpa for saying it but whether you “literally” would have been born or not is merely speculation and uselessly dramatic rhetoric.

      • Shmuel
        July 8, 2014, 3:23 pm

        “The “shed ha edati” and anti-Mizrahi bigotry persists among extreme anti-Zionist/post-Zionist ultra left-wing radical types, who are overwhelmingly Ashkenazi,

        Post-Zionists, probably some; anti-Zionists I would guess very few. The “radical ultra left-wing” in Israel happens to be extremely critical of all forms of ethnic, social and economic discrimination, and is active on all fronts. Besides, what interest would Israeli anti-Zionists have in defending past or present Zionist policies and actions?

        It’s the moderate, liberal “left” (which is indeed overwhelmingly Ashkenazi) that desperately wants to save “beautiful Eretz Yisrael” and go back to the “good old days” before ’67, when there were relatively few Arabs around (I wonder why) and Mizrahim knew their place; and much of which still retains Mapai-style condescension toward both Palestinians and Mizrahim.

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 2:48 am

        Shmuel says:
        July 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm
        The “radical ultra left-wing” in Israel happens to be extremely critical of all forms of ethnic, social and economic discrimination, and is active on all fronts.

        You mean they like giving lip service to it as part of their radical chic and they can sometimes they can trot out a token house “frenk” to show they’re serious.

      • Shmuel
        July 9, 2014, 3:48 am

        You mean they like giving lip service to it as part of their radical chic and they can sometimes they can trot out a token house “frenk” to show they’re serious.

        No, that’s what you mean. I disagree with you. I don’t know how many Mizrahi anti-Zionists there are in Israel (there aren’t that many Jewish anti-Zionists in Israel altogether), but social justice and equality are the basis of “ultra radical left” ideology. In Israel, that means, for the most part, supporting the rights of Palestinians, migrants/asylum-seekers, Mizrahim and Haredim. I will give you that prejudice against Haredim can be found even on the “ultra radical left”, but it is certainly not as ubiquitous there as in the liberal, moderate left (and right).

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 3:28 am

        It’s the moderate, liberal “left” (which is indeed overwhelmingly Ashkenazi) that desperately wants to save “beautiful Eretz Yisrael” and go back to the “good old days” before ’67, when there were relatively few Arabs around (I wonder why) and Mizrahim knew their place; and much of which still retains Mapai-style condescension toward both Palestinians and Mizrahim.

        Mapai also condescended to the haredim, and to anything or anyone they thought was redolent of the Galut (like Menahem Begin), and to anyone who had Herut-type sympathies.

        Although Boston-born/Brooklyn-raised, I come from a Herut/Likud-Sephardic Yerushalmi family and of course I am familiar with this mindset. Coming out of this background, I’ve also become convinced that the Likud approach of supporting Eretz Yisrael ha Sheleima will destroy the country. There’s much more in common with people like Moshe Arens and Ruby Rivlin and the Mondoweiss crowd than either group cares to acknowledge.

      • Shmuel
        July 9, 2014, 4:07 am

        There’s much more in common with people like Moshe Arens and Ruby Rivlin and the Mondoweiss crowd than either group cares to acknowledge.

        Once again, you’re confusing the liberal, moderate left with what you termed the “ultra radical left”. Indeed the liberal, moderate left loves Rivlin (whom it supported for president), and is full of respect for Begin (not to mention Meridor, Miki Eitan, etc.). Arens is a different story.

        The “ultra radical left” (also assuming that is what you were referring to at MW – libertarians and America-firsters aside) takes issue precisely with Israel’s partial (ethnocratic, Herrenvolk, etc.) democracy, which is the window-dressing the old-school Herutniks are utterly devoted to: ‘let’s make the part of our society that is democratic as decent as we can’. That doesn’t wash with us URL-types, because it perpetuates and gives airs to inequality and discrimination (not to mention various and sundry war crimes and crimes against humanity).

        No, we have very little in common with Arens or Rivlin (but you knew I’d say that). Although, as we (in my pre-URL days) used to say about Shamir, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    • AbigailOK
      July 8, 2014, 2:42 pm

      @ Danaa The caste system – good wording – is a lot like South Africa Apartheid and the state of Israel. And yes, very recognizable indeed no matter how much Mikhael tries to whitewash it and tries to convince everyone that it is a thing of the past.

      But apparently, as I read at one of his comments, to point out the obvious is something of
      “The “shed ha edati” and anti-Mizrahi bigotry persists among extreme anti-Zionist/post-Zionist ultra left-wing radical types, who are overwhelmingly Ashkenazi, and to a lesser extent among certain segments of the haredi sector (mainly in the so-called “Lithuanian” yeshiva world), who have been known to discriminate against Sefaradi/Mizrahi students in their educational institutions. Otherwise, the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi/Sefaradi divide is mainly of interest to people like the Mondoweiss fellow travelers, who try (and fail) to stoke intra-Jewish tensions, whilst ignoring the head-chopping intra-Muslim disunity.”

      Part of some Israeli army cyber task force, Mikhael or whatever your real name might be? You are so transparent and artificial, it defies logic. Interesting how you manage to ignore the crimes the ziostate of israel managed to perpetrate against so many generations of Mizrahi jews. And children of all too. Is that not in your instruction book? What an omission. And how glaringly obvious.

      BTW why is it that if I reply to a certain comment I never get my comment underneath that one in question. Now neither. Of all places it is placed underneath the unrealistic ziobot Mikhael.

      • ritzl
        July 8, 2014, 3:20 pm

        @AbigailOK- As a technical matter on replies, it appears that the site has chosen to limit comment nesting to 3 maybe 4 levels. Any comment deeper than that will not have a reply button. It makes it a little harder from our perspective (we’ll adapt), but it most likely makes life easier from their perspective (server load, site development cost, moderation time?, etc.).

        Imho, 3-4 levels is very generous compared to other site’s comment sections (1 level being the norm, but on big sites maybe 2).

        FWIW.

      • AbigailOK
        July 8, 2014, 5:27 pm

        @ritzl Thank you for pointing this out! I was puzzled by this and also why sometimes one sees loginreply, at other times in larger font and sometimes nothing. ????? Now I know. Thanks again.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 7:16 pm

        “like the Mondoweiss fellow travelers”

        We better watch out or Mikhael will report us to HUAC!

        Tell me Mikheal, who are we “fellow travelers” with? Do you even know where the expression comes from and who were one of the main targets of that “fellow traveler” slur?

        What a world Zionists live in, always a trip through the crooking glass, darkly.

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 3:13 am

        Mooser says:
        July 8, 2014 at 7:16 pm Tell me Mikheal, who are we “fellow travelers” with? Do you even know where the expression comes from and who were one of the main targets of that “fellow traveler” slur?

        The term existed before the McCarthy era.

        Per Wikipedia

        “A fellow traveller (UK English) or fellow traveler (US English) is a person who sympathizes with the beliefs of an organization or cooperates in its activities without maintaining formal membership in that particular group.”

        I used the term accurately. Most of you lot claim to have sympathy with a Palestinian-Arab cause of ending Israel’s existence as an independent Jewish state; most of you are not Palestinian Arabs and openly express support of organizations dedicated to said goal. If you choose to regard “fellow traveler” as a slur, then you perhaps have a less than certain conviction in the justice of this cause.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 7:18 pm

        “who try (and fail) to stoke intra-Jewish tensions”

        Yes sir, no intra-Jewish tensions in Israel! And if there are, we stoked ’em! By fellow-traveling, no doubt.

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 3:09 am

        Mooser says:
        July 8, 2014 at 7:18 pm
        Yes sir, no intra-Jewish tensions in Israel! And if there are, we stoked ‘em! By fellow-traveling, no doubt.

        Not of the sort you have in mind. Israelis, like Jews everywhere, have always been and will remain a fractious lot. But we’re still a cohesive society, Israelis of Mizrahi background have in the past and will in the future identify more with Ashkenazim than they ever will with Arab non-Jews, it is Ashkenazim whom Mizrahim overwhelmingly marry and have children with. Whatever bickering goes on among different Jewish groups in Israel, it’s a far cry from the sectarian head-chopping and cannibalism you see among our neighbors. Though you may long to see it, it won’t happen.

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 2:59 am

        Part of some Israeli army cyber task force, Mikhael or whatever your real name might be?

        Are you part of some Iranian cyber army task force “AbigaelOK” or whatever your real name might be? Are you really the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. OK? Most of us don’t disclose our full, real names on sites like Mondoweiss (yes, including me and almost everyone else commenting on the site, with a few exceptions, like Phil Weiss, Adam Horowitz and Jerome Slater) so you shouldn’t make snide comments about whatever people’s real names might be. But FYI, Mikhael is indeed my real first name, although yes, offline, on all my official American documents it’s spelled the common English way–with a “ch” rather than a “kh” but my Israeli documents have it as מיכאל, so if you read Hebrew, “Mikhael” is a more accurate and scientific transliteration of the Hebrew מיכאל.

        As to the “ziobot” insinuation and Israeli army task force, it’s very unoriginal and indicative of an inability to reply in substance.

        From the Mondoweiss militia manual, when all else fails, remember to use these words:

        “Ziobot”

        “Hasbara Central”

        “Apartheid”

  4. Ron Edwards
    July 7, 2014, 2:26 pm

    YES! This general issue has been one of my go-to points for years, much to the consternation of my fellow Americans who can think only of Jewish white people, all descended from Holocaust survivors of course, vs. Muslim Arabs. Add to it the existence of Jewish Arabs who were living there prior to and during any of the drama of the past century, even more invisible to American eyes if that’s possible, and you can get a lot of eyes squinting and questions forming.

    • Mikhael
      July 7, 2014, 10:01 pm

      Ron Edwards says:
      July 7, 2014 at 2:26 pm
      YES! This general issue has been one of my go-to points for years, much to the consternation of my fellow Americans who can think only of Jewish white people, all
      descended from Holocaust survivors of course, vs. Muslim Arabs.

      Point of correction: Many, if not most, of the Sefaradi and Mizrahi Jews (whom you incorrectly refer to as “Jewish Arabs”) are indistinguishable from those you call “white people”. The same goes for Muslim Arabs, many of whom also are indeed white. As for Holocaust victims ad survivors, the Sefaradi Jews who fell into Nazi clutches were just as victimized as their Ashkenazi kin. Most of the ancient Greek Jewish community, composed of Sefaradi and Romaniote Jews (not Ashkenazim), was liquidated. Jews in German-occupied Tunisia, Algeria and Libya were sent to desert concentration camps and even sent across the Mediterranean to death camps in Poland. Many other Sefaradim from France’s North African colonial possessions and protectorates (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco) resided in Metropolitan France, and when France was occupied by the Germans, they too were deported to the death camps along with the Ashkenazim.

      • Ron Edwards
        July 8, 2014, 8:41 am

        I’m always interested in further knowledge, but you are not grasping whom I’m talking about. I am speaking of people who did not immigrate but rather were there already – a small percent, but not infinitesmal either. The Zionist narrative relies heavily on the false concept that all modern Jewish people in the Levant came from somewhere else, and especially that the European Zionists came first. It’s tied into the myth of the diaspora/ingathering and also into the idea of pioneers arriving in a land of ignorance. That’s why no one in the U.S. knows a thing about the Jewish heritage in Beirut, for instance. And why the proper term for Jewish Arabs living in the area to the south, and having lived there as long as anyone, would perfectly appropriately be called Palestinians.

        There’s a lot to talk about concerning the diversity and social history of Israel and the Levant in general. But I am making sure that single-digit, maybe barely 10% of the population doesn’t get lost in that shuffle. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a storm of words raised as fast as possible to obscure this point.

        The term “white” does deserve deconstruction. I used it in the sense that people mis-use it – identifying light pigmentation with the word “Europe,” which is incorrect in both directions, not to mention connected with much racism – in order to highlight (no pun intended) the error of this outlook. I don’t need instruction on the error itself.

  5. ToivoS
    July 7, 2014, 3:20 pm

    This idea of building a Mizrahi-Palestinian alliance in Israel strikes me overly idealistic. Certainly would be a nice development but likely impossible. The experience in the American south might be similar. Basically the enemy of poor whites and blacks was the social class structure. Efforts to integrate those people into a movement failed completely. This began almost a century ago. The one thing that the poor whites had was their superior position over the blacks and that was something they would never give up. I can’t imagine the Mizrahi being different.

    I was not aware that a majority of WB settlers are Mizrahi. Of course these people will see the 2s solution as a threat to the little material gains they have managed to achieve. There is no way a European dominated left could ever attract those settlers or their relatives inside the green line. Alliance with the Palestinians is even less likely.

    • ritzl
      July 7, 2014, 7:13 pm

      Over time, ToivoS. But peacefully over time. As Shmuel points out there is much to overcome but, imho, as the One State realities become apparent there is an exploitable, inside-the-system, political affinity that offers the opportunity to share power in the coming context.

      Maybe a better way to say it is there may be/is more affinity in a Mizrahi-Palestinian Israeli relationship given Israel’s unbalanced, high-GINI economy than there is in an Ashkenazi relationship with either group, again given a one state construct where everyone is thrown together to sort it all out.

      Maybe Shmuel is absolutely right, that the bond between Jews of whatever background is vastly stronger than any Mizrahi-Palestinian alliance (because of the strength of the need to have a lower “caste”). Our very own Mahane exhibits that behavior. But then, there is a new, radically different reality coming. I don’t know how much that new reality will, I don’t know, “spall” or diffuse away Mizrahi political power in the direction of a power share with Palestinians. It probably depends on how included Mizrahim are in the current Israeli power structure and what happens when an opportunity presents itself to re-form that structure to address long(?) nascent domestic issues in Israel.

      In any event, none of this is a matter of absolutes, and I stand corrected by you, Danaa, and Shmuel on my simplistic statement. You all added color to my increasingly black and white (re: lazy) world view on this issue.

      PS: Re: The South… Here in Alabama this type of alliance did happen at the height of Jim Crow (40s and 50s) when “Big” Jim Folsom cobbled together a coalition of poor blacks and whites to win the governorship twice (separated by a term, so a durable coalition) until Wallace got him squarely in his racist cross-hairs. It can happen even in the most difficult of circumstances. But circumstances in today’s Israel may well be much more “difficult” than segregationist Alabama of the 50s.

      • Mooser
        July 7, 2014, 9:40 pm

        Remember, any solution which provides even a fraction of the justice Palestinians deserve is a solution, or process which will see many, many unredeemed Zionists leaving Israel, and those who stay are those willing, or even eager to adapt to the new conditions. I hope so.

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2014, 10:06 pm

        I desperately hope the door swings that way, Mooser. The option exists for cooler heads to prevail. The alternative is naked savagery. Either way it’s the end of Israel as it exists today, by its own zealous hand.

    • Naftush
      July 8, 2014, 7:58 am

      ToivoS, “WB settlers” make it a point of pride to celebrate ethnicities and eschew discrimination. So whatever truth there is to the Mizrahi majority claim, it does not suggest special treatment, let alone mistreatment.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 4:38 pm

        “ToivoS, “WB settlers” make it a point of pride to celebrate ethnicities and eschew discrimination.”

        Is “ethnicities” some kind of a pun? I mean, you could call the settlements “ethnicities”.

        And they “eschew discrimination”? Sure, okay.

  6. Shmuel
    July 7, 2014, 3:27 pm

    This is a puzzle: how is it possible that a marginalized, oppressed group supports a party which clearly marginalizes and oppresses another group of people? Lavie says that it is a reaction to years of abuse and disenfranchisement by the Israeli left.

    Why is the proletariat so damn reactionary? Can’t they see where their “true” interests lie? When will they stop being so “docile” and subservient to clerics and capitalists who exploit them?

    Sure, punishing the left was a part of it, but Mizrahim have, for the most part, identified their own interests and decided that they lie with strengthening the Jewish national identity that ensures that they are well above the most discriminated group (Palestinians) in Israeli society, and with taking the benefits offered to them by the state (whether run by right or “left”) on Jewish only settlements. Why on earth would they give that up? To be treated like Arabs? Screw class consciousness. It’s a luxury only the (predominantly Ashkenazi) middle and upper classes can afford.

    Besides, been to Europe lately (or any time in the past century)? Where do right-wing and fascist movements do their most and best recruiting? Among the wealthier, privileged classes or among the poor and disenfranchised? It’s always good to have someone even lower than you on the social/economic/ethnic scale to blame and kick around. Rich, white people do it all the time. Why should anyone expect any more of the poor?

    • Danaa
      July 7, 2014, 4:36 pm

      These are very good points of comparison, Shmuel. And i share your questions about some of those specifics….

  7. adele
    July 7, 2014, 3:28 pm

    Sylvia,
    this is a superb article and am so glad that MW published it as this topic is not very well known or understood outside of Israel.

  8. Shmuel
    July 7, 2014, 3:35 pm

    I was wondering about the basis/source for some of the assertions in this review, such as the figures 50%, 30% and 20% for Mizrahim, Ashkenazim and Palestinians, respectively (of the entire Israeli population), or “the requirement of having five maternal Jewish generations in order to immigrate to Israel”.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      July 7, 2014, 5:04 pm

      Me too. I thought the numbers of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews were roughly 50-50. I also thought that having just one Jewish grandparent was enough to allow you to ‘make aliyah’ to Israel.

    • yonah fredman
      July 7, 2014, 5:07 pm

      The 50-30-20 Mizrahim, Ashkenazim, Palestinians assertion is just plain false. How can one take this article seriously when such a glib false assertion is made? Although the wikipedia numbers are confusing, they are seriously different than the figures given in this article and seem to indicate a 52-48 division of Mizrahim to Ashkenazim in the Jewish population of Israel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Israel

      • ohiojoes
        July 7, 2014, 8:53 pm

        Real amateur stuff here–besides, aren’t the remaining distinctions beween Mizrahim and Ashkenazim less important than those between Yemenis, Moroccans, Iraqis, Russians, etc? I’ve only been to Israel twice–but those are the distinctions I was aware of.

      • Walid
        July 8, 2014, 6:45 am

        Ohiojoes, the Ashkenazim were not always the elite of the Jews as they are today. In European history at the start of the 19th century, The Ashkenazi were considered the riff-raff of the Jews by the then snobbish Sephardi of Iberian roots that had taken a foothold in most of European banking and shipping activity. The Sephardi refused to mix, intermarry or even attend Ashkenazi synagogues, as the Ashkenazi were limited to working in menial jobs and to living in ghettos while the Sephardi mingled with Europe’s upper crust.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 6:52 pm

        “considered riff-raff of the Jews by the then snobbish Sephardi of Iberian roots that had taken a foothold in most of European banking and shipping activity.”

        Okay, that does it. Now I know I’m completely nuts, and hallucinating. Did I just see one Jew use the old “Jews-have-all-the-money” trope against another group of Jews? And “snobbish”? How were they “snobbish”? Did they object to their children marrying Jews?

      • Mooser
        July 7, 2014, 9:46 pm

        Good work, Yonah! You just disappeared the Palestinians again, so we go from %30 Palestinian (50-30-20) to “a 52-48 division of Mizrahim to Ashkenazim in the Jewish population of Israel” 52 + 48 + 100 doesn’t it?
        So what happened to the 30%?

        And how do you think, Yonah, the Mizrahim should be kept in their place, and docile? I’m sure you have an opinion on the subject.

      • Yitzgood
        July 8, 2014, 1:31 am

        And how do you think, Yonah, the Mizrahim should be kept in their place, and docile? I’m sure you have an opinion on the subject.

        Don’t feed the trolls. (I mean that you, Mooser, are a troll.)

      • Djinn
        July 8, 2014, 2:56 am

        Yitzgood July 8, 2014 at 1:31 am in reply to Mooser

        Don’t feed the trolls. (I mean that you, Mooser, are a troll.)

        You dont need to spell out what you’re saying twice Yitzgood (I mean, that you Yitzgood, didn’t need to repeat yourself)

      • Taxi
        July 8, 2014, 5:21 am

        “Don’t feed the trolls”

        Jello arrow .

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 3:52 pm

        “Don’t feed the trolls. (I mean that you, Mooser, are a troll.)”

        Oh yeah, I’m famous for it. You should’ve seen what happened when I said “I’m planning a trip to Greater Israel after I have stolen felafel for breakfast.”

      • MTd2
        July 8, 2014, 4:43 pm

        @Moser

        The felafel link just goes to the main page of the blog, not to your post.

  9. Faisal
    July 7, 2014, 9:20 pm

    So, this is how it is – class-wise – in the ethnically cleansed 78% of historic Palestine:

    1st class
    Russians and Poles (Prime Ministers, at least partially)

    1st class minus
    Light-skinned non-Russians and Poles (I escaped Dachau to help “build Israel”. I made Aliyah from Ontario; geez, it’s more “hectic and Middle Eastern” here than I expected

    2nd class
    Jewish Middle Easterners and North Africans (athletes, bodyguards, singers and Sderot “they’re firing home-made rockets at us, I don’t know why” imbecilic racists

    3rd class
    Sub-Saharan Africans (hey, c’mon, believe me, I’m Beta Israel, seriously, I’m Jewish, not Sudanese or Eritrean, understand? please?

    (TBD)
    The indigenous population (demographic threats, mercenaries and Uncle Toms)

    • MahaneYehude1
      July 8, 2014, 12:00 am

      Faisal, Yaatik Al-Afye!!!

      Thanks for your list but the original list made in Arab countries like in Iraq: We, the Muslims, are 1st class and all others, mainly Jews, are lower classes. That’s only one reason (not the main one) why I am writing my current comment from Jerusalem, not from Baghdad.

      Ramadan Karim!!!

      • Taxi
        July 8, 2014, 5:26 am

        Mahane,

        So sad to hear that you swapped your ancestor’s rich culture and land, just so you can be a doormat for the criminal zionist project.

      • Walid
        July 8, 2014, 6:29 am

        Especially now that the Kurds are control of most of Iraq’s oil.

      • eljay
        July 8, 2014, 7:30 am

        >> MY1: Thanks for your list but the original list made in Arab countries like in Iraq: We, the Muslims, are 1st class and all others, mainly Jews, are lower classes.

        The “original list made in Arab countries” is unjust and immoral. The fact that your supremacist “Jewish State’s” list is marginally less unjust and immoral is no reason to be proud, Potato-man.

        >> That’s only one reason (not the main one) why I am writing my current comment from Jerusalem, not from Baghdad.

        Occupied Jerusalem, Potato-man.

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 4:35 pm

        “That’s only one reason (not the main one) why I am writing my current comment from Jerusalem, not from Baghdad.”

        Not from Baghdad? I’m shocked, and awed.

      • just
        July 8, 2014, 4:37 pm

        lol!

      • Mooser
        July 8, 2014, 6:56 pm

        “lol!”

        I wish I could, I sure as hell wish I could.

      • just
        July 8, 2014, 7:02 pm

        ergo, my lack of caps. it was more of a “clever comment, but tragic episode that the US will never be able to run away from”.

  10. a blah chick
    July 7, 2014, 9:27 pm

    I find it interesting that on the Zionist websites the fact that the suspects in the Abu Khdeir are Mizrahim seems strangely comforting. Most of them don’t want to say it outright but there is a lot of “well, what can one expect of THOSE people. They came from the Arab world, didn’t they?” Expect to see more of this when the trials start.

    Also the meme going about is that Jews are still better than Arabs because they did not rejoice over the Abu Khdeir murder. Unlike the Arabs who “celebrated” when the hitchhikers were killed. I guess I just imagined all those Facebook postings.

    We have our work cut out for us.

  11. bilal a
    July 7, 2014, 10:32 pm

    Israeli racism must have something to with geographic origins in greater russia — nothing to do with Judaism.

    Russian racism
    http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/08/8-worst-countries-black-people-travel/

    19th century Jewish emigration into Germany from Ukraine-Belarus.Poland
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Germany#Migration_of_Polish_and_Lithuanian_Jews_to_Germany

    • Mooser
      July 8, 2014, 7:02 pm

      “Israeli racism must have something to with geographic origins in greater russia — nothing to do with Judaism.”

      Oh, I agree, but when, exactly have Zionists ever been at all heedful of how their Zionism intersects with the Jewish religion? Or how their actions might reflect on Jews.

      And who the hell cares, where they’ve got their Israeli racism, they sure as hell have it! Why didn’t they leave it behind them when they left Russia and went to Israel.
      Hey, but if you are about to say that all these many and varied bigotries are absolutely necessary to a Zionist state, you won’t get any argument from me.

    • Citizen
      July 8, 2014, 8:18 pm

      @ bilal a

      Well, there was the German Jewish perception of the Ostjuden: https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/RosenbergerEastAndWest/

      I think the latter were the peculiar people Hitler remarked about, that he said he first encountered on the streets of Vienna (at age 19) in Mein Kampf. They apparently looked, dressed, and acted differently than, e.g., the German Jewish doctor who treated his mother?

  12. Abdul-Rahman
    July 7, 2014, 10:49 pm

    A very interesting read here; Ms. Lavie’s book also looks quite intriguing. The political history of the Mizrahis in Israeli politics, talking of course about the dominant “Jewish politics” in the apartheid regime, is indeed noteworthy and complex. Going from the period of more open, clear discrimination in the era that gave rise to Mizrahi protest movements like the Israeli Black Panthers. Through to the 1980s and 1990s where the right wing parties like Likud (while still largely Ashkenazi elitist dominated, like the rival Labour Party is/was as well) were able to come to political ascendancy via courting conservative, religious Mizrahi dominated parties; most specifically Shas of course. This courtship helped the Ashkenazi right wingers to get over on their traditional Labour Party rivals; and gave the often underclass Mizrahis a taste of some actual power inside Israeli political society.

    However, tensions do still exist even today between secular/atheist right wing Ashkenazi politicians like Avigdor Lieberman; and his sometimes allies among a religiously based conservative group like Shas again. Although most Zionist writers today are prone to downplay any lingering systematic discrimination towards Mizrahis, even when people like former Israeli President/current prison inmate on a rape conviction Moshe Katsav (an Iranian Jew) declares he was allegedly prosecuted “more harshly” for being a Mizrahi in power rather than an Ashkenazi in the same position.

    I feel it is most important and critical to comment on one important thing now. That is the fact that the Mizrahis are not and never have been “refugees”. Claims that have tried to assert that argument have only been advanced by hasbara propagandists trying to “offset” the real issue of actual Palestinian refugees from the Nakba. Scholars have noted that no fair analyst, whether Zionist or not, could seriously try to claim the Mizrahi immigrants to Israel are somehow comparable to the Palestinian refugee community. The immigration of Mizrahi Jews to Israel happened predominantly in the 1950s and 1960s and was quite clearly brought about and organized by the Israeli government and its’ affiliated institutions and organizations. “Eastern Jews” who self identify as “Zionist” today, are certainly no fans of being labeled as alleged “refugees” and have quite clearly said as much in public.

    On the overall history of the Israeli government importing “Oriental” Jews into occupied Palestine. Professor Ilan Pappe noted that the Zionist movement, when unable to attract “enough” European Jews to their colonialist project in occupied Palestine, set about this importation of “Eastern Jews” (i.e. Mizrahis) as part of their always ongoing “demographic war” with the Palestinian people in historic Palestine. The European dominated Zionist movement has always looked at things like this as a “second option” or plan B when unable to attract “enough” Western Jews to Israel’s colonial project in historic Palestine. Interestingly, the importation of Eastern Jews actually goes against some of the Ashkenazi controlled Zionist movement’s earlier ideological positions and policies that openly had disdain for the Mizrahim and considered doing things like making European Yiddish the national language of the Israeli state, etc.

    Pappe stated, starting with European Jews just post WW2: “Only a very tiny minority (of European Jews) came to Israel, and that’s why, contrary to their earlier wishes, the Zionist movement decided to bring Jews from the Arab world and de-Arabize them so they would become Jewish and not identify with the Arab population.”

    Source: http://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2011/04/01/palestine-israel-interview-pappe/

    The Arab Jews that were brought to Israel, again via Israeli state endeavors of immigration for demographic manipulation purposes AFTER the Nakba, had experienced a wide array of different circumstances in their home countries. Ranging from quite good statuses and upper-class livelihoods to clear instances of discrimination and occasional mistreatment of varying degrees. Historian Avi Shlaim, himself an Iraqi Jew, summed this all up quite well in a relevant book review he wrote which was covered here: http://mondoweiss.net/2010/09/shlaim-im-not-a-refugee-my-family-left-iraq-because-we-felt-insecure-after-zionists-wiped-palestine-off-the-map.html

    The only real instance many Zionist propagandists and others would point to in regard to the Mizrahim in their homelands; is the series of bombings in 1950-1951 Iraq that in one famous case targeted a historic synagogue in Baghdad. The history of that specific incident remains hotly debated and clouded in mystery. With people like Naeim Giladi, saying it was Zionist false flag terror. And Zionists against Mr. Giladi, actually admitting that Israeli agents were present in Baghdad and both capable and planning such false flag attacks but where allegedly “beaten to the punch” by angry Islamists or Iraqi nationalists wanting “revenge” for the earlier Nakba, etc.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naeim_Giladi

    As one recent source, discussing Iraq, mentioned on this particular event once again; http://www.stopwar.org.uk/news/the-sectarian-myth-of-iraq-peddled-by-the-west-is-a-recipe-for-endless-war#.U7tX9bFB8yA

    “the only incident was the 1941 violent looting of Jewish neighbourhoods – which is still shrouded in mystery as to who planned it. Documents relating to that criminal incident are still kept secret at the Public Records Office by orders of successive British governments. The bombing of synagogues in Baghdad in 1950-51 turned out to be the work of Zionists to frighten Iraq’s Jews – one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world – into emigrating to Israel following their refusal to do so.”

    To close, a conclusive summary of this whole issue was authored by the academic Yehouda Shenhav (himself an Iraqi Jew as well), in his now classic 2000s era Haaretz article “Hitching A Ride on the Magic Carpet”

    http://www.haaretz.com/hitching-a-ride-on-the-magic-carpet-1.97357

    Professor Shenhav writes concisely:

    “Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews is unfounded. Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine. Many Palestinian communities were destroyed in 1948, and some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled, or fled, from the borders of historic Palestine. Those who left did not do so of their own volition.

    In contrast, Jews from Arab lands came to this country under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some came of their own free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression.”

    • Walid
      July 8, 2014, 6:25 am

      Abdul-Rahman, to add to what you wrote about the immigration of Arab Jews to Israel, it was not 100% voluntary although not very far off that mark. There were evictions of innocent Jews especially those of Egypt. They were kicked out in 4 separate waves in retaliation to something or other that Israel had done, but nonetheless unjustified. As to Iraq, the immigration was nudged along with help from Iraqi officials in collusion with the Zionists to get their hands on abandoned Jewish property. The Arab rulers were not as lily-white in this exodus as we would like to pretend. They had participated in various discussions with the Zionists to transfer out the hapless Palestinians since the early 1930s.

    • Ron Edwards
      July 8, 2014, 8:59 am

      This is from “In the Land of Israel” by Amos Oz, published 1982 – the specific bit may be from a prior-published article, I’m not sure.

      And suddenly from the back of the crowd, “You whites.” … Now they all address me as the plural “you.” And a lean man with fiery eyes shouts, “My parents came from North Africa; all right, from Morocco. So what? They had their dignity, didn’t they? Their own values? Their own faith? Me, I’m not a religious man. Travel on the Sabbath. But my parents – why did you make fun of their beliefs? Why did they have to be disinfected with Lysol at the Haifa airport?” … [another man speaks, “in sadness beyond all anger”] “… now that Begin’s here, believe me, my parents can stand up straight, with pride and dignity. … You go tell your friends: until they let us come to Kibbutz Tzora when we want, to swim in their pool and play tennis and go out with their daughters; until they accept the kids of Bet Shemesh into their school, or bring their kids to school here instead of instead of dragging them a hundred kilometers by bus to some white school; until they stop being so snooty, they’ve got nothing to look for here. We’re Begin.”

      “What did they bring my parents for? I’ll tell you what for, but you won’t write this. You’ll think it’s just provocation. But wasn’t it to do your dirty work? You didn’t have Arabs then, so you needed our parents to do your cleaning and be your servants and your laborers. And policemen, too. You needed us to be your Arabs.

      “But now I’m a supervisor. And he’s a contractor, self-employed. And that guy there has a transport business. Also self-employed. …If they give back the territories, the Arabs will stop coming to work, and then and there you’ll put us back into the dead-end jobs, like before. If for no other reason, we won’t let you give back those territories. Not to mention the rights we have from the Bible, or security. Look at my daughter: she works in a bank now, and every evening an Arab comes to clean the building. All you want is to dump her from the bank into some textile factory, or have her wash the floors instead of the Arab. The way my mother used to work for you. That’s why we hate you here. As long as Begin’s in power, my daughter’s secure at the bank. If you guys come back, you’ll pull her down first thing.”

    • gamal
      July 8, 2014, 12:03 pm

      Smadar Lavie is the author, it was her PhD thesis reworked into a book “The Poetics of Occupation”, it is an extraordinary piece of work, to my mind a towering classic of anthropological research.
      http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520075528

      I met her a couple of years ago when she spoke in Eire, her main talking point was, directed at the Palestinian solidarity activists there, that they and all others interested in the Israel/Palestine issue needed to find a way to talk to extreme right wing Mizrahim, rather than writing them off as irredeemable racists, she expounded on their insecurity and suffering under the Zionist regime and the social and political impasse they find themselves in. She spoke about the “Peace Industry” a joint project of the Ramallah elite and beautiful Askenazi’s, which ignores the issue of the Mizrahim and she explained that the rejection of the peace process by many Mizrahim was based on their having no other means to attack the oppressive Askenazi elite except as insufficiently loyal to the Zionist cause.
      I strongly recommend “The Poetics of Occupation”, especially to Israeli’s, if they have not yet read it..

      • just
        July 8, 2014, 12:51 pm

        Thanks for that endorsement, gamal.

        Sylvia Schwarz has certainly opened my eyes to someone who has, and is doing really important and impressive work.

      • gamal
        July 8, 2014, 1:12 pm

        Also a touch OT perhaps, Esther Benbassa has written a tract which I think may be interesting, I have not got a copy yet.

        “Suffering as Identity: the Jewish Paradigm”
        by Esther Benbassa

        http://www.versobooks.com/books/441-suffering-as-identity

  13. MTd2
    July 8, 2014, 1:02 am

    Weren’t most of the greatest Jewish philosophers Mizrahim and Sephardim, and well, wasn’t the Old Testament all done by people from the Levant?

    • Mooser
      July 8, 2014, 4:33 pm

      “Weren’t most of the greatest Jewish philosophers Mizrahim and Sephardim, and well, wasn’t the Old Testament all done by people from the Levant?”

      Yeah, like any of that ever got a single dunam of land back for Zionism. It’s about time they faced up to the fact that only us Ashkenazim have what it takes!

      • RoHa
        July 8, 2014, 8:28 pm

        ” only us Ashkenazim have what it takes!”

        That’s because you can learn how to be modern indigenes from watching the right movies.

      • Mikhael
        July 9, 2014, 4:15 am

        Mooser says:
        July 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm
        Yeah, like any of that ever got a single dunam of land back for Zionism. It’s about time they faced up to the fact that only us Ashkenazim have what it takes!

        Yehuda Hai Alakalai, a Sefaradi rabbi, envisioned the renascent Jewish state 50 years before Herzl. (Herz’s grandfather was a member of Alkalai’s congregation in Semlin, which may have influenced Herzl.)

        Gei Oni, the settlement predating Rosh Pina, was founded by Sefaradi Jews from Safed in the 1870s.

        Going back further we see the proto-Zionist efforts of Dona Gracia
        Mendes Nasi, who actively helped rebuild the Jewish community of Tiberias and lobbied the Ottomans to that end and saw it as a precursor to a Jewish state. Yemenite Jews had an ongoing and constant migration to Eretz Yiisrael from the 1500s until the state’s founding. In the 19th century, Yemenite Jewish associations, inspired by the Zionist renewal, purchased land in the Nahalat Shimon area, also known as Sheikh Jarrah, only to see it ethnically cleansed in 1948. The Bukharian Quarter was bought and built up by Jews from Bokhara in the 1870s. Obviously you are unaware of the storied role in the building up of and defense of the Yishuv in Eretz Yisrael.

      • Shmuel
        July 9, 2014, 4:41 am

        Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi, who actively helped rebuild the Jewish community of Tiberias and lobbied the Ottomans to that end and saw it as a precursor to a Jewish state.

        What is your source for the assertion that Dona Gracia herself saw her actions as “a precursor to a Jewish state” (in the sixteenth century!)? Everybody and his uncle (or aunt, in this case) has been called a “proto-Zionist”, and simply favouring Jewish settlement and development in Palestine does not a proto-Zionist or a Zionist make (as witnessed e.g. by the Protestrabbiner and Nathan Marcus Adler, who expressed support for Jewish settlement in Palestine, even as they utterly rejected political Zionism).

  14. Citizen
    July 8, 2014, 7:58 am

    “The Enemy Is Us.” 2009 book, posits inter alia that Misrahim are proud they hate Palestinians, wear it on their sleeve to show Jews living in Western diaspora who has the authentic Jewish credentials, believe they are the real Jews, but they were programmed to fail by the Jews from Europe, but those latter Jews say, “Don’t touch our Holocaust!” The review has an interesting anecdote about one man who is flabbergasted and dismayed because he was assigned to live in an area of Israel that reminded him of Russia. Also a point made is that without war or on-going hostilities, violence with Israel’s enemies, Israel would become unglued–war as the only thing that keeps the Jewish Israelis united amongst themselves.
    http://zeek.forward.com/articles/115877/

  15. piotr
    July 8, 2014, 8:22 am

    “In fact, Western Europeans were considered so superior to Mizrahi …”

    Those “Western” Europeans could hail from as far East as Khabarovsk, and most were from Central and Eastern Europe, so “Europeans”.

    “Russians and Poles”? Netanyahu family is Lithuanian. I once asked my lather father what was the difference between Polish and Lithuanian Jews, and the explanation was that there were quite a few, the chief being that “Litwacy” were speaking Yiddish in a funny way. It is also worthwhile to mention that “Poles” absolutely detest Poles, producing various quotes etc. that are used by anti-Semitic Poles.

    In general, modern Israeli nationalism is very much against Europeans, and Poles usually start the list of “nations” that oppressed Jews. This pride in European origin (which is denied as the origin) combined with hatred of Europeans makes a truly unique combination. They remind me the soccer ultras of Warsaw who channel their energies to make impressive and provocative displays on the side of the stadium of their team, Legia, including virtual banner the covers most of the stadium side. Tel-Aviv team was greeted with “Jihad Legia”, but on other occasions displays included “We hate everybody”, “Welcome in hell” and “God, save the fanatics”. When you read comments in Jerusalem Post, ynetnews.com, Times of Israel, you can recognize the spirit.

    Concerning Mizrahim, they indeed resemble to social position of the “white trash” of southern states in USA, and apart for a small percentage of exception, they are nationalistic, follow either parties dominated by the elite (Ashkenazi seem to dominate political leadership quite thoroughly) or religious Shas which in turn is “Ashkenazified”. This latter phenomenon is most puzzling, because they follow “European templates” that are totally backward.

    But the other similarity with “white trash” is that there is no hard separating line, there exists social mobility, intermarriage and so on, but to the degree that they form group consciousness, it is directed at the combo of minorities and liberals, or Arabs and “Ashkenazi leftists” (who are a small minority of Ashkenazis).

    • Ron Edwards
      July 8, 2014, 9:11 am

      Piotr, offered in complete agreement with your points: Greater Appalachia and Ulster Scots
      My aim is to underscore the ethnic distinction of the “white trash”* you’re talking about, i.e., it’s not solely an economic tier within a larger uniform “white” population. Again, I think this strengthens your analogy.

      * a racist term, generally laughed off as “not racist what are you talking about” among more privileged Americans, especially in media discourse – yet another correspondence

  16. just
    July 8, 2014, 9:01 am

    Since this very good article speaks to racism that is endemic in Israel, this is not o/t:

    “Lucy Aharish, the Arab-Israeli television host, woke up. Her awakening came a bit late and was not exactly aimed at the right target, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that on Monday, the news anchor awoke from a long coma.

    The previous day, Benzi Gopstein – a merry Israeli trouper from Kiryat Arba in the West Bank – was a guest on the current-affairs program she hosts on Channel 2 (“Sihat Hayom” – “Talk of the Day”). Gopstein expounded his doctrine about Arabs’ place in Israeli society (according to him, they have none) and argued with the members of the panel, with the elephant standing right there in the room – in this case, the program host, an Arab woman, who sat there, doing a slow burn until she reached boiling point.

    On Monday, Aharish began her program with a calm, well-considered monologue. When reality-show refugee Dan Manu tried to defend Gopstein’s appearance, Aharish pulled out all the stops, releasing the feelings she had kept inside for so long.

    “Do you know what it’s like to be a minority in this country? I hope you never find out what it’s like to be a minority,” she told him, and shared some of the experiences of a person living between two societies and feeling like a hated stranger in each of them.

    What triggered Aharish’s reaction? She who sits so politely during annoying and depressing programs, listening for months on end to the most stupid, simplistic and ugly opinions that Israeli panelists can express. Was it Gopstein who annoyed her? Gopstein, a follower of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, is the head of Lehava, a nut-job organization that seeks to prevent assimilation. It is easy to dismiss him as an extremist; as one who is, in any case, acting illegally. ”

    More: http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.603768

    • Mikhael
      July 9, 2014, 4:05 am

      just says:
      July 8, 2014 at 9:01 am
      “Lucy Aharish, the Arab-Israeli television…

      So basically you are trying to show the inherent racism and discrimination in Israeli society by bringing an example of a young and talented Arab- citizen of Israel (not exactly relevant to the current discussion of alleged discrimination against Mizrahi Jews in Israel–who are not Arabs, but whatever) who has enjoyed huge success in the Israeli media, who told off and embarrassed some bigots on TV. Aharish (who I like, she’s a cutie, I joined her Facebook fan club) had the upper hand throughout. Would you try to demonstrate the disadvantages blacks face in the US by highlighting how Oprah humiliated some KKK once?

  17. ritzl
    July 8, 2014, 2:13 pm

    Great thread. Really informative and textured. Thanks…

  18. Mikhael
    July 9, 2014, 3:56 am

    Annie Robbins says:
    July 9, 2014 at 3:05 am

    iow, what AbigailOK said, the terms “leftist” or “radical-leftist” “extreme anti-Zionist ultra left-wing” are all day-to-day terminology used by the official israeli hasbara institutions and its employees.

    Not actually. They may be used by some columnists/bloggers/ blog commenters, but as far as I can see they are not terms that are routinely used by any official elements of the Israeli government.

    It means”enemies of the state” is likely correct. and for the most part you agree with it.

    As someone who considers himself a man of the moderate political Left in both an American and an Israeli context–in other words, I support most socioeconomic policies considered “left wing,” universal healthcare, housing subsidies, laws against workplace discrimination, environmental regulation, no, I do not think “leftist” always means an enemy of the state. In an Israeli context though, the far radical left, whether comprised of Jews or Arabs, is by its own admission and avocation an enemy of the state. This is no secret. Israel’s democratic system allows radical Left groups to advocate policies aimed at ending the existence of the state.

    okkkkkay. none the less, ethnic cleansing, like genocide, is wrong and criminal.palestinians take it very personally.

    Then my late father’s cousins, aunt and uncle, who were Palestinian Jews (because as we know from history, “Palestinian” refers to anyone who held British Mandate Palestine citizenship between 1925-1948) were ethnically cleansed by Transjordan’s Arab Legion and by Palestinian Arabs from Jerusalem’s Old City in ’48. Shit like this unfortunately happens in wartime, and it’s usually tougher for the losing side. Jews were the losing side in the Old City in 1948. Happily, in ’67, the city was reunified and Jews were able to return. We took it personally too.

    excuse my chutzpa for saying it but whether you “literally” would have been born or not is merely speculation and uselessly dramatic rhetoric.

    It’s very obvious that the forces of Zionism and the re-emergence of a Jewish nation-state in its historic homeland brought people like my parents into contact with each other and I and millions of other Israeli Jews like me would never have been born if these historical events had not taken place. It’s not speculation and not drama.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 9, 2014, 5:15 am

      it’s definitely playing a rhetorical drama card dragging in allegations about who would or would not have been born given who would have been in contact w/eachother and whether one would have been born added w/’and i take it personally’ as if your opinion has more credence because you wouldn’t be alive if the state didn’t exist. seriously, learn to argue without these props and don’t expect people to add more weight to your ptv given your “history”.

      as far as I can see they are not terms that are routinely used by any official elements of the Israeli government.

      maybe you can’t see very far, or what we see.

      “official israeli hasbara institutions ” exist in the form of think tanks. and who are you to know what’s taught or encouraged in the gov funded hasbara outfits run out of the prime ministers office? you may not have heard but we’ve had regular posters on this site with i.p addresses from the is gov, and i can assure you they peddle this lingo…and you can’t “see” who posts here, but we can.

    • Taxi
      July 9, 2014, 5:21 am

      “mickael,
      “It’s very obvious that the forces of Zionism and the re-emergence of a Jewish nation-state in its historic homeland brought people like my parents into contact with each other and I and millions of other Israeli Jews like me would never have been born if these historical events had not taken place. It’s not speculation and not drama.”

      Therefore we can also add that if it were not for Hitler and for nazism, you would never have been born either.

  19. alen
    September 4, 2014, 12:59 am

    Apparently there is already a movement of Sephardic Jews causing trouble in Israel. From the Jewish Press.

    Anti-Zionism, Sephardic Style
    By: Steven Plaut
    Published: January 10th, 2007

    (an excerpt)

    Having noted all this, the point also needs to be made that there is a small but growing group of malcontents and political extremists who have emerged from the Sephardic communities. While Sephardic integration and participation in Israeli society is an unambiguous success story, these radicals are people who argue that not only are Sephardic Jews victims of rabid Ashkenazi “racism” and “discrimination,” but that they are in fact the natural allies of Palestinians and Islamists….

    …Wurmser documented the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist pronouncements of Sephardic communists and extremists, many of them on the faculties of Israeli universities. Such extremists are also the focus of Israel Academia Monitor (IAM), a watchdog group that exposes the extremist politics of Israeli academics (though its focus is not on Sephardic extremists as such)….

    There is more to the article… but this is my first post as a member (long time reader). Being a Sephardic Jew, I find this so interesting.

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