One Ashkenazi leftist’s view of the post-election rumblings of class warfare between the “State of Tel Aviv” and the mainly Mizrahi periphery.
Last Tuesday’s election saw Likud’s traditional popular base — Mizrahim in the poor, development towns and cities of the Negev and Galilee, and poor neighborhoods and suburbs of the central region — vote for Likud and Netanyahu in very big numbers. This caused a backlash among many Ashkenazi liberals who voted Zionist Union and Meretz. They’re saying they are through caring about the Mizrahi poor; let them go to Bibi from now on. This, in turn, has caused a counter-backlash by many other Ashkenazi liberals and leftists, who are saying this is a racist, right-wing attitude, and that a big reason why poor Mizrahim vote Likud is because of Ashkenazi liberal offenses against them, past and present.
The following is my view of the Ashkenazi leftist/Mizrahi Likudnik divide. I want to stress that I am referring only to poor, generally under-educated Mizrahim who make up the base of Likud supporters. I am not talking about middle-class, well-educated Mizrahim, who I have a strong hunch leaned away from Likud and toward the more liberal parties in the election.
1. Israeli leftists, who are disproportionately Ashkenazi, want to be in solidarity with the “weakened” classes, which include the poor, under-educated segments of the Mizrahi population. But it turns out that the latter tend to hate Israeli leftists. They also hate the “weakened” classes who are not Jewish: Arabs and African refugees. In disproportionate numbers, they expressed that sentiment — against the Left and the Arabs (the Africans weren’t much of an issue) by voting for Bibi.
So what is an Israeli Ashkenazi leftist to do? If we lash out at Mizrahi Likudniks, we’re racists, which we don’t want to be, and if we blame them for their own racism, then we’re not good leftists, because good leftists don’t blame the “weakened” classes for anything. So we blame the powers that be, we blame Israeli capitalism, we blame Bibi — and, being good leftists, we blame ourselves. We’re racist, we live in a Tel Aviv bubble where everyone is just like us, we’re patronizing, we put the poor Mizrahim in miserable immigrant transit camps when they came to Israel in the ‘50s and ‘60s, we don’t listen to them, etc. And we think that if we take this fearless personal inventory, if...Read More