Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More about discrimination ( or is it victimhood?)

Discrimination is what others do to you; victimhood is what you do to yourself. Yaniv Halily of Ynetnews writes a follow-up to his column lamenting the fact that the history of the Jews in Muslim countries is not taught enough in Israeli schools:

"In my previous column I released a bit of steam about a glaring hole in both my own and our national educations with respect to the history of Jewish communities in the Muslim countries. While I was at it, I unleashed the sectarian demon – as I picture it.

"Note that I wasn’t moaning about discrimination, nor was I issuing an impassioned indictment of the way the Ashkenazim controlled our lives. Luckily for me, the sixties and the seventies didn’t really affect me, and even though some of my friends continue to complain about those days, I prefer to focus on the positive.

"Why didn’t I know about the Crypto-Jews of Mashhad who had to choose between conversion to Islam and death? Because of the Ashkenazi bleeding hearts, that’s why. That doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. I mean, there have been substantial improvements in this regard, but, nevertheless, certain aspects of the past have a nasty habit of repeating themselves in the present.

"For example, several very recent studies have indicated that when it comes to higher education, significant gaps remain between Mizrachim (“Oriental” Jews) and Ashkenazim. The facts speak for themselves. More Ashkenazim obtain advanced degrees and are therefore able to create better lives for themselves with fewer financial constraints. Obviously, this discrepancy didn’t come from nowhere. Now, I’m not saying that it’s a question of premeditated institutionalized discrimination. However, a brief tour of Israel’s southern development towns shows that these areas are mainly populated by Mizrachim and Russians. (The latter group was forced to settle in the boondocks, because like all new immigrants, they too must start out at the bottom rung.)

"Until my stint in the army, I didn’t realize that where you come from can influence your future standard of living. I served in a military melting pot comprised of representatives of every sector: Northern Ashkenazim vs. southern Mizrachim; new immigrants vs. the so-called “salt of the earth”; and progeny of well-established families vs. residents of poverty-stricken neighborhoods."

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