Praise for IDF refusenik Tair Kaminer’s “ethics” obscures the fact that an illustrious military service is the Mizrahim’s litmus test for social acceptance and allows the Left to bask in its own self-proclaimed enlightenment.
By Tom Mehager
The public debate regarding Tair Kaminer’s refusal to serve in the army illustrates, yet again, the color-blindness of the Israeli Left. Time after time the Left ignores the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi elephant in the room, effectively alienating themselves from the majority of Israeli society. However, it doesn’t prevent the Left’s representatives from praising themselves as the standard bearers of “enlightenment.”
For instance, Haaretz columnist Uri Misgav recently praised Kaminer thus: “Kaminer is a young, ethical person who is politically and socially aware. She spent a year as a volunteer after high school, working with traumatized children in Sderot.” Similar things have been written about Kaminer elsewhere.
It’s interesting to dwell on the meeting between “a young person with values” and the predominantly Mizrahi periphery, in this case the town of Sderot. How do Israeli youths such as Kaminer gain “ethical values”? What is the process that youths in Israel undergo, in which a separation and a hierarchy between an “ethical youth” and the kids who recently disrupted a TV interview and were roundly denounced as “arsim” (a derogatory Hebrew word for riffraff primarily used against Mizrahim), are created?
The Israeli establishment never saw the Mizrahi youth as having the potential to acquire “ethical values,” or a “political and social awareness,” as Misgav put it. Quite the opposite. The Israeli education system, from its founding to the present day, operates on the assumption that Mizrahi youths are less capable than their Ashkenazi peers. In his much-touted series of reports, “The True Face of the Ethnic Demon,” journalist Amnon Levy asked Mizrahi youths what they’ll be when they grow up. Some answered that they’d become soccer players or policemen. Others spoke of the option of serving in the army in a combat unit, which would, maybe, make people “look at them differently.” They were well-aware of the establishment’s racist gaze, directed towards them simply by virtue of being Mizrahim.
This helps explain the high rates of middle- and lower-class Mizrahim enlisting to combat units. They need military service in order to attain a sense of self-esteem and social acceptance. The stark contrast between the military service of most Mizrahim and conscientious...Read More