Israeli journalists are only inflaming tensions by blaming longtime Oriental Jews residents of south Tel Aviv for the plight of African asylum seekers. So one must ask: why aren’t journalists actually holding the government accountable?
Shoshana Gabay (Translated from Hebrew by Benno Karkabe, Shoshana Gabay and Dana Hadadi)
May Golan is a young resident of an impoverished south Tel Aviv neighborhood, and an active member of Michael Ben-Ari’s fascist movement “Otzma Le’Israel” (Power to Israel). In an interview she gave to Haaretz, Golan succeeded in infuriating its readers with her personality and her slandering of African refugees.Golan’s written profile is another round of the Israeli press fighting racism against African refugees by exposing the dark ethnic roots of ‘agitators’: the Oriental Jews.
At the same time, the press displays the bleeding heart of the ruling class – offering those people in need a pair of worn sneakers, as one Haaretz journalist says in his personal story.
We are disappointed in the Oriental JEw. That’s what Michael Handelzalts expressed in a Haaretz article, a day after last year’s riots in the slums of Tel Aviv. In his complaint over the ungrateful oriental Jews, he says: “we absorbed ‘Aliyah’ (immigration) from countries in distress, and then helped them to adjust to the progress that we built here, all to their benefit.” Then, paraphrasing the Book of Kings, he writes: “Our fathers watered weeds, we are beaten up by scorpions.” This statement by the disappointed journalist basically questions the Oriental Jews’ right to Israeli citizenship, which unconditionally provides them basic rights in the country.
Handelzalts, the paper’s theater critic, immigrated from eastern Europe in 1957 – a long time after the majority of Oriental Jews immigrants settled in that very south Tel Aviv neighborhood. In other words, he wasn’t born here, yet, to him it is natural to use the “royal we.” His Zionist idealization implies progress and an active attitude in society. In Handelzalts mind, the ungrateful and passive Oriental Jews do not contribute, they only profit.
This fantasy of superiority, effectively draining the core of Israeli citizenship, is well-rooted in the hegemonic class; it has been carved into young Golan’s mind as well. “I am Jewish,” she says in one of her street duels, which is to say: my Judaism is my insurance ticket, whereas my rights as an Israeli citizen are not.
Even the African refugee himself has become aware...