It is no wonder that Mizrahim vote for right-wing parties when the Ashkenazi-dominated Left has done everything in its power to exclude them. Want things to change? Start talking about Ashkenazi privilege.
By Tom Mehager
Those who have, historically, voted for Israel’s left-wing camp are often nicknamed “the white tribe.” On the other hand, the right wing enjoys a high percentage of Mizrahi voters. Why? In the run-up to the elections, it might be worth taking a look at this question.
First of all, the social categories “Mizrahim” and “Asheknazis” are nowhere to be found in the platforms of Israel’s leftist parties. While the platforms of Labor (the “Zionist Camp”), Meretz and Hadash include, among other things, social issues relevant to both central Israel and the periphery, these parties base themselves on a colorblind worldview that believes that “there is no such thing as Mizrahim and Ashkenazim anymore.” But that’s just it – there is such a thing. When it comes to many issues, Mizrahim were and still are a group that faces discrimination, when compared to Ashkenazim. And yet, left-wing parties choose to totally ignore this fact.
Amir Peretz stood at the helm of the Labor Party during the 2006 elections, while Ehud Barak headed the party during the 2009 elections. A comparison between the percentage of people who voted for Peretz and Barak reveals a clear-cut picture: Peretz, a Mizrahi leader from the periphery, significantly raised the percentage of Labor voters among the Mizrahi public.
For example, in Sderot (Peretz’s hometown) 24.57 percent of voters gave their vote to Labor, as opposed to 5.31 percent who voted for Barak. In Dimona 17.49 percent voted for Peretz, while only 5.31 percent voted for Barak. In Shlomi 20.74 percent for Peretz, and 5.99 percent for Barak. In Yeruham 14.9 percent for Peretz, as opposed to 4.21 percent for Barak. Labor won 19 Knesset seats under Peretz, winning only 13 under Barak.