Prof. Amir Hetsroni. Back to the days of anti-Mizrahi racism
Ben-Dror Yemini

There is no abyss between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Israel

Op-ed: Extremists on both sides are trying to create a war between ethnic groups, but it's just insanity versus insanity, hatred versus hatred. In reality, Israel has a much more beautiful face.

There is a fascinating coalition between militants on both sides. They are trying, with great effort, to put together a conflict between Ashkenazim and Sephardim.  



The former are returning to the days of old anti-Mizrahi racism, and the latter are excited by the "A Mizrahi votes for a Mizrahi" slogan. The former include types such as Prof. Amir Hetsroni, author and former actress Alona Kimhi, and the "Lo Latet" ("Don't Give") campaign, and the latter are intellectuals from the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow who have turned Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri into their messiah.


We should pay attention to the fact that most of the people taking part in this dispute, on both sides, are either post-Zionist or anti-Zionist. That's no coincidence. They are trying to sell us a split, racist society which is falling apart.


In the 1960s, Kalman Katzenelson published a book titled "The Ashkenazi Revolution," a slanderous lampoon by a revisionist who claimed that there are two people living in Israel: Supreme Ashkenazim and inferior Sephardim. It was an antithesis of the integration of exiles vision. The book wasn't a success. Katzenelson didn't represent the revisionists, and his new successors, Hetsroni and Kimhi, don't represent the Ashkenazim. Just like the Shas voters among the anti-Zionists don’t represent even one-quarter of the Mizrahim.


Shas 'A Mizrahi votes for a Mizrahi' campaign (Photo: Shas spokesperson)
Shas 'A Mizrahi votes for a Mizrahi' campaign (Photo: Shas spokesperson)


The problem is that both groups are being given backing and a stage in certain media channels. They are being discussed and inflated. They are being turned into a stream and phenomenon. In the social media, this slander is turned into a celebration.


So we should put things in order. There is no abyss between the camps. There is no abyss between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim. That's nonsense. There is an abyss between the extremes. Insanity versus insanity. Hatred versus hatred. In reality, there is a different Israel.


Over the weekend, two days ago, I attended a family event in one of Tel Aviv's satellite cities. A celebration for a daughter who has just been born. The mother is "mixed." She is neither Mizrahi nor Ashkenazi. The father is an engineer, a kibbutznik. There were many other similar couples there. The middle class. The elections were forgotten. It's seems that when you leave the bubble of the phalanges of the extremes, there is another life. It's a bit different. The newborn baby has no ethnic identity. There are many others like her, from Gideon Sa'ar to Dov Khenin, even when people don't know that's what they are.


Following the outburst of racism on the days after the elections, we have forgotten, and so have I, that the other Israel represents the majority. Eighty percent of the members of the golden age club already have "mixed" grandchildren and great grandchildren. Here and there, there are ethnic ghettos, mainly among the haredim, but for the rest this is a disappearing thing.


There is no need to cover up anything. There are still expressions of racism. There are remainders of the state racism we used to have here, which requires distributive justice. And certain elites, like the Supreme Court and the academia, are finding it difficult to change. Not because there are no suitable candidates, but because of the power maintenance mechanisms. The left which rightfully talks about the exclusion of women and Arabs is finding it difficult to deal with the exclusion of Mizrahim. And nonetheless, as Prof. Momi Dahan has proved, the gaps are being closed, although not in the required speed.


So despite the turbid wave of the elections, some things need fixing, but Israel has a much more beautiful face. We should remember that regardless of race, religion, gender and ethnic group, especially as the "ethnic group" section becomes less and less relevant for more and more people.


פרסום ראשון: 03.23.15, 23:56
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