Monday, March 23, 2015

A dose of Neanderthal realism

The Israeli election seems to have unleashed an ugly, pent-up racism among the left-leaning cultural elite towards the Mizrahim who voted 'in their droves' for Netanyahu's party. But Mizrahim, with their memory of the 'Jewish Nakba' in Arab countries, were, on the whole, never going to vote for the more dovish Zionist Union. Lyn Julius blogs in The Times of Israel:

“Drink cyanide, bloody Neanderthals. You won. Only death will save you from yourselves.”

By the time the author of these words, an award-winning writer called Alona Kimhi, had deleted them from her Facebook page, it was too late. The blogosphere was buzzing, and Facebook and Twitter heaved with similar enraged disgust, even hatred, accusing Netanyahu and his supporters of racism. Some Israelis even started a campaign called ‘Lo latet’ to stop donating charity to the poor: They deserved punishment for perversely supporting the Right, even when Netanyahu’s ‘capitalist policies’ hurt them most. 

Netanyahu’s ‘racist’ comments pandered to his racist supporters. He had exhorted them to come out and vote because ‘Arabs were being bussed to the polling stations in their droves’.

But the Zionist Union’s own chairman, Yitzhak Herzog, blamed a speaker at his party rally the previous week for the Zionist Union’s defeat: artist Yair Garbuz had derided the “talisman kissers” and “tomb worshippers” who support Netanyahu.

His remarks were taken to refer to the country’s traditionalist Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent. But, argued columnist Ben Dror Yemini, Garbuz was not the only one who harboured these condescending thoughts. The Ashkenazi-dominated Israeli establishment – writers, artists, dramatists, media people, academics – must crush its ‘inner elitist’.

 

Professor Amir Hetzroni's insulting diatribe against Mizrahim is the most venomous yet. Had he been a minister 60 years ago, he would never have let Moroccan immigrants enter Israel under the Law of Return. When the presenter demanded he apologise, he walked out of the TV studio. (With thanks: Ahuva, Janet) 

The Garbuz moment unleashed the ‘ethnic demon’ into the election campaign, Yemini opined. That was the moment when the Israeli election became about identity politics.

“There’s no question that the speech given by Garbuz hurt us,” Zionist Union chairman Yitzhak Herzog admitted.

Although he did not distance himself from Garbuz’s comments at the time, Herzog said he ‘did not subscribe to those beliefs’.

“I have nothing to do with Garbuz. “I have a golden rule – never to criticize beliefs and opinions, or to insult someone for their faith.”

A chastened former Labour leader Shelly Yafimovitch appeared on Israeli TV. She bitterly regretted Yair Garbuz’s words, and promised change.

Even before the election, far leftist commentator Dimi Reider wrote that the Garbuz episode showed something was seriously rotten in the state of the Left. The Israeli electorate has not voted in a Labour government since 1999. If they are ever to win back voters from Likud, the Left needs to do some serious soul-searching.

But Dimi Reider still failed to put his finger on the Mizrahi malaise. Is it pride and pugnaciousness? Or simply fear?

Call it fear – but it is fear grounded in bitter experience.

All Israelis have experienced Hamas rockets and Arab terrorism, but only the Mizrahim carry the memory of what it was like to have lived in Arab countries and to have been brutally displaced from them.

The average Likud voter has not forgotten the ‘Jewish Nakba’. He and his family were dispossessed and uprooted from Morocco or Iraq, but antisemitism still haunts and hounds his tiny corner of the Middle East.

Hamas, Hezbollah and the beheaders of ISIS hover on Israel’s doorstep while Iran rattles its nuclear sabre.

Israel would be mad to go the route of political concession and show weakness, the Neanderthals reasoned. There is no compromise with genocidal jihad. It’s a no-brainer.

Read article in full

6 comments:

Sylvia said...

You've got to feel sorry for this reject. By saying what he did he sought to provoke Buzaglo into saying that she too, wished his grandparents never made it here. That would have really started a war. But she was smart, and compassionate, and didn't let herself be dragged into that mud and stoop down to his level.

The tragedy is that it is having an effect on the "Mizrahim" themselves or those with one "Mizrahi" parent who seek to distance themselves from their origins precisely by mimicking the discourse of the Ashkenazi left.

I am still raging over the "joke" before the elctions of Hilik Bar, who is the General Secretary of the Labor party and is at the moment at the J Street conference in the US. He told students at Hadassah college:"my father is from Morocco, my mother is from England, that makes me a polite pimp."

Well, past the initial shock, the students didn't take that sitting down, as you can see in the video.
Instead of apologizing he took it from on high and posted on his facebook page that he is proud of his Mizrahi roots and he and nobody else will define himself.

As if he didn't just insult at least a million of Israelis.

Needless to say, the incident was broadcast and it was clear from the onset that the left wasn't about to win.

Sylvia said...

Here is the video. It's in Hebrew. He says it right at the beginning. The woman who tries to quiet things down is the n mediator.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JImD5cdGau0

Sylvia said...

Dan Carmi is an Ashkenazi son of Holocaust survivors. He was so outraged by the anti-Sepharadi bashing feast that he got up this morning and went to change his name to Carmi-Buzaglo.

He plans to conduct protests as I understood from a radio interview I imagine we'll hear from him soon.

bataween said...

Sylvia, thanks for the video - what a balagan!
Kol hakavod to Dan Carmi - Buzaglo!

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

All these events, Garbuz, Sobol, Bar, Hetzroni, Lo latet [don't give], prove that the so-called "Left" is not fit to govern the state.

These are people, moreover, who cannot control their tongues.

Anonymous said...

Sylvia - he didn't say a "polite pimp". The word he used, "ars", might mean "pimp" literally in Arabic, but in Israel it means either a disparaging term towards oriental jews, like calling someone a "spic" or a "honkey" - or, more generally, someone without manners, a rude person. It was a failed attempt at humor: the point of calling oneself a "polite ars" is to show the absurdity of such stereotypes, which in his case "imply" a logical contradiction - a polite rude person.