Monday, November 28, 2005

End of the 'Ashkenazi era'?

Since Israeli domestic politics were shaken to their foundations by the surprise election to the leadership of the Labour party of the 'Moroccan' Amir Peretz, Haaretz has got all excited about the re-emergence of the 'ethnic demon' (real or imagined). Within Likud, it reports, there is support for the 'Tunisian ' Sylvain Shalom to become leader of the party rather than that other contender, Benjamin Netanyahu.

"A day before the Labor primaries, Silvan Shalom said that Amir Peretz's victory would pose a problem for the Likud. Peretz exploited this statement to score another few votes at the polls - an outcome that Shalom had not intended, of course. He had only wanted to help himself. Shalom meant to say that while an earthquake was underway in Labor and a Sephardi from a peripheral town was assuming the party leadership, the Likud could not remain behind. It had to place a suitable candidate at its head - a "Tunisian" to run against a "Moroccan."

"Uzi Cohen, the Likud's ubiquitous man in the field, openly said as much this week. Until now, he was a big supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, but this week, Cohen defected to the Shalom camp, announcing: "After the upheaval in Labour, there are quite a few Knesset seats that are going to be distributed on an ethnic basis, so it would be best if Silvan were head of the Likud - There is no way that an Ashkenazi like Bibi could beat a Sephardi like Peretz." Shlomo Madmon, chairman of the Likud branch in Kfar Sava also joined Shalom's supporters, saying, "With all due respect to Bibi, we have to offer a response to Amir Peretz."

"MK Haim Katz (Likud) declares that out in the field, revolution is afoot. People of Moroccan descent - Likudniks included - are speaking in loving terms about Peretz. Dialna - one of ours, they're saying. Just as the Ashkenazim once used to say in Yiddish Unsere."

Read article in full

Meanwhile Al-Jazeera gets the wrong end of the stick by gleefully assuming that the end of the 'Ashkenazi era' means the end of Zionism.

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