Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Racism has been worse on the left


Yemenite Jewish refugees: political primitives?
Seth Frantzman , opinion editor at the centre-right Jerusalem Post, jumps ship in order to sound off on Israeli racism in the Forward, a centre-left publication. Racism, he argues, has always been more virulent on the left. What about Mizrahi racism towards others , one may ask. In the last analysis, however, the state itself has overridden  individual objections and prejudice to open its doors  to Jews  of all backgrounds and circumstances.  It cannot be faulted for that.

Since the 1950s, this legacy of ethnocentrism has haunted Israel. When the philosopher Hannah Arendt visited Israel in 1961, she described her fear of Jews who “looked Arab but spoke Hebrew,” calling them “an Oriental mob.” In 1981, singer Dudu Topaz castigated non-Ashkenazi Jewish voters as “chachachim,” a derogatory term. In 1983, Shulamit Aloni lambasted Sephardic Shas supporters as “barbarous tribal forces.” Shmuel Schnitzer, a journalist, described in 1995 Ethiopian Jews as “thousands of apostates bearing disease.” Noted author Amos Elon pondered in 1953 what effect Moroccan Jews’ “uncontrolled fertility would have on the Jewish people’s genetic robustness,” and in a 2004 interview he was still claiming that “political primitiveness” came from immigrants to Israel.
This narrative of what Ehud Barak called a “villa in the jungle” has cast an immense shadow over the ability to confront racism in Israel. Stereotyping against citizens who are not considered European-origin “sabras” has been an integral part of the left and right, but ironically in Israel, it has been particularly virulent on the left. Ari Shavit states without compunction in his 2013 book “My Promised Land” that “many Oriental Jews are not aware of what Israel saved them from, a life of misery and backwardness in an Arab Middle East.” 




8 comments:

Sylvia said...

"What about Mizrahi racism towards European Jews, one may ask."

I'd like an example of that.

bataween said...

Obadiah Yossef and his more regrettable pronouncement s on the Shoah?

Sylvia said...

Ovadia Yosef was speaking from a Haredi, not Mizrahi viewpoint. His opinions blaming assimilation or Reform were shared by his Ashkenazi haredi counterparts.

Besides, there were Libyan, Tunisian, Greek Jews deported to Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Algerians sent to labor camps, etc.

There is nothing ethnic about it, different philosophical approches deal differently with the Shoah.

Sylvia said...

I think that whole sentence is sheer slander and should be deleted.

Ben said...

"chachchachim", not "“chachachim,”.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, Spanish Moroccan-Canadian journalist Ralph Benmurgui did a mini documentary series for Canadian TV called "My Israel", in which he did devote a segment to racist attidtdes across Israeli society, and did confront some fellow Sephardis on their extreme attitudes toward Ashkenazim.

Sylvia said...

This is a case of blaming the victims.

We know who those fellow Sephardim are intellectuals who became enraged by what they viewed as systematic discrimination and they too not only used harsh words, but also shifted to the radical left. We know who they are the Shalom Shetrit, the Shenhav, and a few others. A handful. That's your evidence?

bataween said...

I don,t think one can deny that tese views exist on both sides, and certainly I personally have heard individual Mizrahim express negative views.
But Sylvia take comfort that the intellectuals quoted with anti Sephardi or Mizrahi views are equally only a handful, and some like Hannah Arendt were not even Israelis....