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Israel's Black Panthers remind us what their struggle was about

Back in the 1970s, the deep socioeconomic divide between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel led to a massive protest movement and the rise of the Israeli Black Panthers. A newly approved official civics textbook in Israel portrays the movement as violent and criminal. We called up three Black Panthers to remind us all of the true nature of their struggle.

The following is a chapter in the Education Ministry’s newly-approved civics textbook, To be Citizens in Israel:

Criminality motivated by ideology — political violence

“Political violence is the use of force by an individual of a group in order to attain political goals such as influence, protection of the government, protest against the government, or struggle against another group which has social or political power.

Political violence can begin with verbal violence, through demonstrations and protests without a permit, physical confrontation with security forces, property damage, beatings, causing bodily injury and wounds, and can go as far as murder. In some cases, political violence has as its goal the intimidation of opponents or enemies, at which point it constitutes terrorist activity.”

Expressions of political violence in Israeli society

Violence in the context of the national divide, as manifested during “Land Day” and the events of October 2000 by Arabs against Jews (in contrast, the Or Commission found that the police, too, reacted with excessive force in some cases, and 13 Arab citizens were killed), “price tag” activities and the murder of the boy Mohammad Abu Khdeir in 2014 which were carried out by Jews agains Arabs.

Ideological-political violence, such as the murder of Emil Grunzweig in 1983 during a Peace Now demonstration, and the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Violence based on a feeling of ethnic discrimination, for example the events of Wadi Salib in the 1950s, and the demonstrations of the Black Panthers in the 70s.

Violence in the context of the religious divide, such as throwing stones at cars driven on the Sabbath, and the murder of the young girl Shira Banki during the Pride Parade in 2015.”

Ethnic discrimination is based on “a feeling?” Perhaps it is just a figment of that famous Oriental imagination? And criminality? Is this how Israeli children will learn about one of the most important events in the history of the Mizrahi and social struggles in Israel? Not to mention the fact that the textbook frames Shira Banki’s murder at the Jerusalem Pride parade in the context of religion, or that so-called price tag violence is framed as “ideological-political” — but...

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How we learned to forget the villages we destroyed

‘Erased from Space and Consciousness’ is the product of years of meticulous research to raise awareness of the hundreds of villages Israel destroyed during and following the 1948 war. But is awareness enough to remedy the injustices of the past?

By Tom Pessah

Kadman, Noga: Erased From Space and Consciousness – Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948. 2015. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 256 pp.

Noga Kadman’s Erased from Space and Consciousness is one of those rare books that profoundly re-shapes your perspective. Growing up inside the Zionist education system meant that even when I did eventually hear about the “Palestinian narrative,” it seemed distant — not connected directly to my life experiences as an Israeli.

Kadman’s book, a product of visits to the sites of 230 former villages and extensive archival work, traces the points at which the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 was submerged and normalized, until this massive break in the country’s history became almost imperceptible to younger generations of Israelis. Through documenting the points at which these Palestinian experiences were re-coded, the book enabled me to de-familiarize the familiar – to finally notice the ruins and the cacti I regularly passed on bus rides, and to start asking questions about their former inhabitants. As Edward Said notes, “there can be no hope of peace unless the stronger community, the Israeli Jews, acknowledges the most powerful memory for the Palestinians, namely the dispossession of an entire people” (p. 145-6). This acknowledgement can only happen once we re-read our surroundings and fully perceive what has always been there — in the background.

After a useful forward by Prof. Oren Yiftachel and an in-depth review of the scholarship on the Nakba and its erasure, the book runs through three empirical chapters. The first examines publications from 25 rural Jewish communities that took over the lands of ruined villages, and describes how this transition was narrated there. The second describes in detail two government bodies established following the state’s founding — the Government Names Committee, and the Survey of Israel (the agency responsible for mapping) — both of which determined how the sites of former Palestinian localities would be officially named in Hebrew.

The third chapter discusses signs and publications by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which help mold the public’s perceptions of what became nature reserves and holiday resorts, which mask the sites of former villages. Extensive...

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With one viral video, Netanyahu rewrote Israeli history

By accusing Palestinians of attempting to ‘ethnically cleanse’ Jews, Netanyahu is not only distorting history, he is actively delegitimizing both the Palestinians and the Israeli Left.

By Na’aman Hirschfeld

“Ethnic cleansing is the forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from a particular territory with the intent of making it ethnically or religiously homogeneous. That’s the generally accepted definition of the phrase, and there are no differences of opinion on that.” These words were written by Moshe Arens in an op-ed published in Haaretz last month.

Arens went on to ask: “So why did Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent use of that phrase cause such an uproar?” After all, he argues, several ethnic cleansings have been carried out against Jews in Eretz Yisrael in the past, the last and largest one during the disengagement from Gaza, “when all Jewish settlers were forcibly removed from their homes. But that was a case where Jews uprooted Jews, you’ll say. Does that make it any less a case of ethnic cleansing? The objective of that “disengagement” was to leave the Gaza Strip without Jews.”

The questions raised by Arens should be addressed, because like Netanyahu’s claims, they are only made possible by a substantial lack of knowledge among Israelis about what “ethnic cleansing” actually is, and its relevance to the Israeli-Palestinian reality.

So what is ethnic cleansing? The Final Report of the Commission of Experts Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 (submitted in May 1994) — a seminal document vis-a-vis the definition of the term, asserts that ethnic cleansing:

The violent means used in ethnic cleansing include: “murder, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, extra-judicial executions, rape and sexual assaults, confinement of civilian population in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilian population, deliberate military attacks or threats of attacks on civilians and civilian areas, and wanton destruction of property.” And since these acts are part of a coherent policy, the report asserts that: “Those practices constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore, such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention.”

Following this definition, it is clear that Arens’ assertions are simply wrong: the violent events he describes could be considered as war crimes, but they were in no way instances of ethnic cleansing, i.e. of a coherent policy meant to “cleanse” an area of Jews. The only case of an explicit policy to remove Jewish civilians...

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There is nothing 'natural' about police racism

Israel’s police chief angered Israelis when he claimed it is ‘natural’ to suspect Ethiopians. But his remarks are simply a reflection of where Israeli society is at today.

By Galia Boneh

Police Chief Roni Alsheikh’s recent comments, according to which it is “natural” for police to be suspicious of Ethiopian Israelis, stirred much controversy. They also lead to an important public discussion, exemplifying how structural racism works, and how racist acts in the name of public service gain legitimacy from the top echelon.

In parallel, however, they also allowed the public to characterize Alsheikh as a racist, to renounce him while absolving ourselves of responsibility. In his book Between the World and Me, African-American journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates writes the following:

Although Coates is writing about the situation in the United States, his words resonate here as well. It is easy to be outraged and shirk responsibility for the police chief’s remarks. It is less comfortable to think about how they reflect and represent us, and to remember that all the injustices carried out by Israel’s police against Ethiopians — was well as against Arabs, asylum seekers, and other persecuted groups — are the result of our desires as a society.

Coates continues:

Natural law. It is no coincidence that the police chief enlisted natural law to justify the police’s racist conduct. “Nature” is the ultimate justification — one cannot become angry over something natural. Like an earthquake or a tsunami, one can feel a deep pain over loss, but the forces of nature are not something we can judge; there is no one to get angry at, since they are out of our control. Thus the attempt to change natural law is doomed to failure, despite the fact that any attempt to do so is greatly appreciated. At least someone is trying.

But Alsheikh is not the only one who says racism is natural. This was the most common argument I heard over the past year, during which I analyzed the issue of racism as part of my studies at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. For example, at a conference toted “Are We Racist?” at Hebrew University in April, one of the speakers said that skin color is a symbol that naturally distinguishes between groups, and that a group’s natural proclivity is to despise and deny “the other.” Thus, it was said, without constant intervention...

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What Palestinian athletes can learn from Colin Kaepernick

Palestinian athletes can learn a thing or two from the football star’s refusal to stand during his country’s national anthem.

By Abed Abu Shehadeh

One can say many things about American politics, but boring they are not. We are seeing this with the presidential race and the rise of the American Right, which views the world as a reality show where anything can be said — regardless of logic or factual basis — as long as it is stated in the most provocative and blatant manner. On the other hand we cannot ignore the Black Lives Matter movement, which challenges structural racism in the United States — especially among the police.

The American football player Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers is refusing to stand during “The Star- Spangled Banner,” setting an admirable example of social responsibility. The quarterback explained his brave choice: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” His stance is thoroughly explained and undoubtedly brave, providing us food for thought in our local context vis-à-vis the responsibilities of Arab athletes. Those who are well aware of the crimes committed against them and their people, yet who choose to continue to compete with Israeli groups and organizations — where a large number of athletes served in an army that occupies their fellow Palestinians.

I do not have many expectations of athletes nor do I discount the extremely difficult path they took to get to where they are today. But I believe that their silence on public political discussions is shameful, whether they are athletes who choose to represent Israel abroad under the occupier’s flag or whether they are soccer players on a team with racist supporters, such as Maccabi Tel Aviv (which Rami Younis called “the most racist team in the state.”)

Arab athletes are aware of these injustices, yet choose to remain silent. And when they do take a stand, their position is framed in such a way that it does not offend the Israeli public. But this is not what is needed. We need these athletes to show...

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Israel's culture minister is no friend of cultural equality

Culture Minister Miri Regev may be right in wanting to change the unbalanced distribution of Israel’s resources, but she’s going about it all wrong.

By Yossi Dahan

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev is right to speak about the need for “social justice” in Israel, and she is correct when she says that the distribution of resources vis-a-vis cultural institutions is skewed and discriminates against different groups in Israeli society.

Yes, state funds dedicated to culture often go directly to institutions and art based in Tel Aviv, while communities in the social and geographical periphery are not properly allocated resources that will allow them to develop and enjoy culture that they can identify with. She is also correct when she states that there is a dearth of Mizrahim who get to make decisions regarding resource allocation for culture.

Statistics on the matter appeared in a document published by a coalition of Mizrahi organizations tht examined the distribution of cultural allocations between the years 2001-2008, according to different populations groups in Israel. This unjust allocation, which has continued for years, goes against a law passed by the Knesset in 2002, which calls for “fully expressing the cultural diversity of Israeli society and their different world views.”

Many people, among them Mizrahi cultural figures and activists who struggle for cultural pluralism and against historical cultural discrimination and oppression, support Regev’s stance.

It is difficult not to feel sympathy toward Regev’s position in the face of the staunch opposition by the perennial executive directors of theaters and cultural institutions, not to mention the often racist attacks against her by those who enjoy the fruits of the current status quo. However, it would behoove those who support Regev’s struggle to pay attention to her minimalistic definition of the term “social justice,” which actually turns her into one of the most dangerous enemies of that very ideal. For Regev, social justice is reduced to equal distribution of resources among Israel’s Jewish population. She has no intention of fixing discrimination against the Arab population.

It is important to note that the term “social justice” cannot simply be reduced to fair distribution of resources — it also includes the right of individuals and cultural groups to freely create and enjoy culture. Social justice includes, among other things, the right of individuals and groups to artistic freedom of speech — a freedom that Regev tramples when she tries to defund the Arabic...

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Why the struggle for LGBT rights in Israel is far from over

Recent homophobic comments by Israel’s religious leaders are a reminder that the struggle for a pluralistic society will only grow more intense in the years to come.

By Yossi Dahan

The recent remarks by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, head of the distinguished IDF preparatory yeshiva in the West Bank settlement Eli, who called the LGBT community “perverts” and accused Reform Judaism of being an “offshoot of Christianity” — are not a coincidence. Not only do they express a moral opposition to what is happening within the army, they are part of a political attempt to signal to the IDF chief of staff and the army’s chief education officer that Levinstein and other top rabbis do not intend to forgo their influence and power in molding IDF soldiers’ lifestyle and principles.

Professor Yagil Levy uses the term “theocratization of the army” to describe the influence of national-religious rabbis — some of them heads of army preparatory programs, others heads of preparatory yeshiva (which combine religious studying with IDF service) — on the army. Levy describes a process by which religious authorities begin to take precedent over state authorities. In the eyes of rabbis such as Levinstein, there is a limit to the legitimacy of state laws. As they see it, in the struggle between state law and religious law, the latter wins out.

Newly-appointed IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Karim shares Levinstein’s worldview in everything having to do with women, LGBTs, and religious rules of warfare — which justifies acts such as killing wounded enemy combatants, along with innocent civilians. According to international law, these acts are considered war crimes and are a blatant violation of both military and state law.

The process of subjugating soldiers’ personal lives to religious principles is characterized, according to Levy, by attempts to pressure the army to implement religious practices, as well as through a gradual takeover of the IDF from the inside, so as to directly influence what happens in the army. The co-founder of the Eli preparatory yeshiva, Rabbi Eli Sadan, who was awarded the Israel Prize last year (and who had reservations about Levinstein’s remarks) has previously stated: “We must find our way into all the establishments — the army, the Shin Bet, the legal system — in order to mold the perfect state.” Similar remarks were made by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: “Our army is holy… sometimes there are a few unfavorable changes, but they won’t succeed. We must not fall asleep at the wheel, but...

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Israelis don't understand Palestinian fears over Jerusalem

For Israelis, Jerusalem is an archaeological treasure. For Palestinians, it is a city whose heritage and identity are constantly under threat.

By Yonathan Mizrachi

It turns out that issues of identity, religion and recognition are far more critical to East Jerusalem Palestinians than what the Israeli Right and center would have us believe. A new survey shows that East Jerusalemites are more concerned with Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and archaeological excavations than issues such as lack of infrastructure and the denial of construction permits.

The survey, commissioned by Israeli NGO Emek Shaveh, an organization of archaeologists and community activists focusing on the role of archaeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, asked East Jerusalem residents what issue concerns them the most in heir home city.

The survey was carried out by the Smith Institute, and included 500 individuals representing Israel’s adult population (Jews and Muslims, ages 18 and older).

According to the findings, 67 percent chose Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple Mount, while 44 percent responded that archaeological excavations concern them most. Forty-one percent of respondents say the denial of construction permits is most important to them, while 30 percent believe the lack of infrastructure is of top priority.

Contrary to the view that providing a higher standard of living and better housing for East Jerusalem’s residents will resolve the tensions in the city — a position that both rightists and centrists seek to advance — the results of the survey suggest the threat to Palestinian identity and the violation of Jerusalem’s symbolic status are of greater concern.

The survey further shows that Israeli Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem hold completely different attitudes toward the city’s archaeology. The participants were asked their opinion about the purpose of archaeological excavations in the Old City, to which they were able to choose from up to two responses. Eighty percent of Israeli Jews believe that the objectives of archaeological excavations in the Old City and the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan are purely scientific — that is, to find historical evidence of life in the city throughout history.

Among East Jerusalem Palestinians, on the other hand, the most notable responses were to strengthen the Jewish hold on Jerusalem (53 percent), and to erase all remnants of Muslim history from the city (57 percent). Another 21 percent believe that the purpose of the excavations is to erase all of the city’s non-Jewish historical remnants. Only 14...

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Turning entire Palestinian villages invisible

Israeli signs in the West Bank not only ignore destroyed Palestinian villages, they also erase those in plain sight.

By Umar al-Ghubari

The destruction and emptying of the Latrun villages took place 49 years ago this month. The Israeli army had occupied Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nuba on June 5, 1967, expelled the residents of all three villages to the Ramallah district and prevented them from returning after the war, which lasted only six days. Bulldozers and soldiers began demolishing the homes, and razed the three villages. The State of Israel erased the names of the villages from its maps, and of course from traffic signs, as was its practice since 1948.

Years later, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) created “Canada Park” on top of the Latrun villages. There are many signs up inside the park, but none them mentions the names of those villages — except for one, which Israeli organization Zochrot compelled the JNF to erect to avoid legal proceedings. About a year ago the JNF put up new signs throughout the park, which erase Palestinian-Arab history altogether. It goes without saying that the entire park is located in an area occupied in 1967, that is, in the West Bank, but not one sign mentions this.

Erasing any textual remnant of the Palestinians is a familiar means of also eradicating them from the Israeli collective consciousness. Signs have the power to shape knowledge, to make an imprint on one’s awareness, to consolidate the name and identity of a place. The sign controls the kind of information that reaches the public, and the kind made inaccessible.

In the Palestinian context, the information and names conveyed in Israeli signs are of critical significance. One of the signs in Canada Park demonstrates that in addition to the past, the present reality can also be erased from the text and from public awareness. Both are absent from the text, though they straddle the hills across from it. And even if past and present do exist, they do not deserve mention.

To those wishing to better understand what it is to be “transparent,” I recommend visiting a specific hill in Canada Park, inside the occupied, destroyed and ethnically cleansed village of Yalo, to understand the way in which the transparent is made (in)visible, and to witness first-hand the brainwashing and efficiency of this powerful stance.

As mentioned in the heading of the sign...

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The state must come clean about the fate of the Yemenite children

Between 1948 and 1952, thousands of Yemenite babies, children of immigrants to the newly-founded State of Israel were reportedly taken from their parents by Israel’s nascent medical establishment and disappeared. Now it is time for the state to come clean about what really happened.

By Tom Mehager

Yemenite children's affair.

In all our innocence we believed that if we bring forth testimonies from families on the ways their children were kidnapped, we could begin a process of social healing, collective truth telling, and in the far-off future, reconciliation. But the response of many Ashkenazi Israelis to the Day of Remembrance and Awareness for the Yemenite, Balkan and Mizrahi Children Affair was one of distortions and victimization. Thus, it is important to reiterate a number of basic facts.

The three separate investigative commissions were flooded with over one thousand testimonies by families whose children were taken from them. Those testimonies were most often consistent: medical personnel told the families that the child was sick, the child was taken from the family and after a number of days was reported dead. The families were neither handed a death certificate nor told where the child had been buried. Today hundreds of families are providing testimonies to Amram, an NGO dedicated to researching the disappearance and trafficking of Jewish children from Yemen, the Balkans and Arab countries, while hundreds of others took part in last week’s events across the country to mark the day of remembrance. Those who refuse to believe these testimonies should, by the same token, refuse to believe testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

Those who bother to read materials on the subject will discover that there are testimonies by members of the Israeli establishment that reinforce those of the families. Take, for instance, the testimony given by Ahuva Goldfarb, the national supervisor of the Jewish Agency’s social services, to the national commission of inquiry: “Children were sent unregistered outside of the [transit] camps, it was systematic as could be.” Goldfarb admits that the answer given to parents who asked about their child’s fate was “He is no longer alive.” Roja Kushinsky, a nurse at the Ein Shemer transit camp, recalls a similar pattern: “I would...

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For Netanyahu, every peace initiative is an anti-Zionist plot

What kind of hope does the prime minister offer us when every attempt to bring about peace is rejected as a plot to destroy Israel?

By Yossi Dahan

Less than a year ago, in a rare moment of honesty, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his vision for Israeli citizens, in present and future tense. It happened during a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which came together to mark the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. “These days there is talk about what would have happened if someone or other would have remained. This is not relevant… we will forever live by the sword.” From Netanyahu’s blood-soaked vision, as opposed to, say, Rabin’s vision of hope, we can tease out his worldview and political behavior. In fact, his remarks summarize his continual refusal to respond to every single initiative that attempts to bring about the end of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through negotiations.

In Netanyahu’s eyes, every peace initiative is nothing more than a plot intended to put an end to the State of Israel — a death trap that we must escape using every trick in the book. This thinking also explains Israel’s behavior over the past few weeks, including Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Europe, where he will try to block every opportunity that may bring about negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, while seeking to soften the tone of an upcoming Quartet report on the frozen peace process, which will likely include harsh language regarding Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu stridently rejects all peace initiatives. During a Likud party meeting several weeks ago, he sent the Saudis, who proposed the Arab Peace Initiative back in 2002, to update their plan according to Israeli demands. Then he rejected the Paris Peace Initiative, which was accepted by foreign ministers of 28 EU member states. The main goal of the initiative was to assemble an international peace conference by the end of the year, in order to cause the Israelis and Palestinians to renew negotiations.

The French plan includes putting together economic incentive packages for Israel and the Palestinians, and creating steps to build trust between the two sides. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, who reports directly to Netanyahu (the prime minister is also Israel’s foreign minister), rejected the initiative outright when he declared that, “peace with the Palestinians will...

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Conscientious objection is yet another Ashkenazi privilege

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...

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Israel's Arab community and its contempt for its youth

I have zero expectations from racist Jews, but I’d expect the Arabs, my own community, to be less judgmental of young people. You have no idea what it’s like to walk down the street fearing the police and criminals, as well as your judgment.

By Abed Abu Shehadeh

Every time a young Arab is killed in our society, social media is flooded with condemnations and expressions of shock for about a week until their authors go back to their arrogant, standoffish selves thanking god, deep down, that some night clubs in our community don’t let young Arabs in.

One of the most formative moments in my life came when I was 17. I went to a have a passport photo taken at a shop on Jaffa’s Jerusalem Boulevard with two friend. An Arab woman in her 40s stood before us in line and the minute she saw us she clung to her handbag assuming, probably, that we were about to rob her.

I have no words to describe the humiliation I felt because at the time my friend and I were ready to do whatever favor she might have asked us. But since that was her attitude, we decided to reciprocate. We came closer and suggested menacingly that she be very mindful of her handbag. We later found out she was a famous local politician.

The problem is endemic to the Arab society. We stereotype and stigmatize our youth only to be taken aback when the sky-high crime rate comes back to haunt us. How about just being straightforward with our youth and saying that we have nothing but contempt for them? Every young Arab is a potential menace – unless he is educated, enlightened, rich or, better still, a hipster.

No sector in our society is immune to that kind of prejudice. The religious moan that we’re not religious enough, and the secularists moan that we’re too religious. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. When demonstrations take place everybody wants to know why we don’t show up, but in the day-to-day routine nobody gives a toss about us. Only when we stand up to the establishment we get some sympathy, but usually from people who want to recruit us to their political ends.

I used to think it’s unique to Arabs within Israel, but I was once humiliated in the same way in Ramallah, where portraits of...

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