There is no room for pro-Israel Mizrahi 'Jews of colour' in the Ashkenazi leftist purview. 'When these same elitists fight for the rights of people of Arab descent, it’s only for the Palestinians; if they find out that you are Jewish, you just don’t matter,' writes Hen Mazzig, an Israeli Jew of Berber and Iraqi descent in this hard-hitting article in The Forward (with thanks: Michelle)
Hen Mazzig: saved hard to buy his designer glasses
Being gay, Mizrachi, and pro-Israel means being politically homeless.
It’s amazing that American Jewish leaders of the left participate in
smearing me as a “hasbaraist” while out of the other side of their mouths
extolling the virtues of intersectionality. Many American Jewish liberals would
like me to criticize Israel more, because that is what a “good progressive”
does: bash Israel.
But my style is different. Going through the challenges life has thrown my
way, from growing up in a family living paycheck to paycheck to having
grandparents who barely spoke Hebrew to being part of a society in which my
background was not celebrated (to put it mildly), all of this gave me a certain
perspective on life.
There was even racism in my school and in my community. It was the racism of
Ashkenazi elitists who believed that they are the better stream of Jews,
superior to the African and Middle Eastern Mizrahi Jews.
Today in Israel, this type of racism is not as prominent as it was in the
past. Nevertheless, it is still very much alive in the Israeli Ashkenazi Left —
and yes, their American counterparts.
And it’s this racism that I hear echoing in the smears against me from the
left. When these leftists call me a “hasbarist,” their accusations emulate the
stereotypical Ashkenazi elitism that does not accept the self-determination of
This racism is rooted in the ideology of white supremacy that we don’t
discuss, wherein many elitists believe that Mizrahi Jews should just stay where
they are socially and economically. When these same elitists fight for the
rights of people of Arab descent, it’s only for the Palestinians; if they find
out that you are Jewish, you just don’t matter. They pick who they care about
based on their race and ethnicity.
Examples of this elitism abound, like just last week, when the senior
communications advisor of a large progressive non-profit told me that I should
stop using my “POC (Person of Color) posturing” because I have designer glasses.
She called me a “well-off Tel Avivian.”
Indeed, I have designer glasses, that I bought for myself with money I
worked hard to save. I do live in Tel Aviv (with a roommate) in a rented
apartment and I hope that one day I will be able to save enough money to buy my
own place (probably not in Tel Aviv as prices are insane). But all of this is
beside the point. Can you imagine a left wing American Jewish leader telling a
Black person to stop their “POC posturing”? Can you imagine her telling a
Palestinian with a good job to stop the pity party? Why, then, is it acceptable
for a leader in the American Jewish left to say this about a Jewish POC?
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