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Jewish-Arab child: My parents' marriage was a mistake

Ynet carries today an interview with a girl of 14, daughter to an Arab father and a Jewish mother. The girl, presented under the false name of “Amanda”, explains that although her father, who has since passed away, initially signed her into an Arab school in the city of Lod (most schools in Israel are segregated), she has since-moved to a Jewish school in another city, where she lives in fear of her classmates finding out she’s half Arab.

There’s everything in the interview -racism and discrimination, chauvinist theocratic patriarchy, and, most heartbreakingly, the self-loathing Amanda uses to cope with a society which has been constructed in such a way that being Arab became a source of shame (and being a woman doesn’t make it any easier). Some select quotes:

Why did you choose a Jewish school?

Because I’m Jewish. I don’t like the Arab education system, the Jews’ level is higher and you get more help with your studies.

Does it bother you, being half-Arab, half-Jewish?

Very much. I don’t like my Muslim side. My Muslim family is very conservative, they don’t let me dress how I like and won’t let me have a boyfriend.

What do they say?

When I was really small they’d scold me for wearing a tank top, and they still wouldn’t let me wear a miniskirt. So sometimes I leave the home in modest clothes and then I change to modern ones.

When you got to the junior high school outside the city, did you tell you were half-Arab half-Jewish?

I didn’t tell them I was Arab  but some of the kids found out through Facebooks, because the names of my Muslim brothers are listed there.

How did they react?

There were quite a few kids that blocked me on Facebook. I told myself, “oh, now they’ll find out my secret.” I didn’t want everybody to know I was [only] half-Jewish. The kids who found out I was half Arab started picking on me, but it went away after a while, I stopped paying attention to them. There were also times kids would call me on the phone, say “Allah Achbar,” laugh, and hang up.

And how did you feel coming home to Lod?

The kids would tell me “here comes the Jew girl” and laugh at me. Sometimes they would throw stones. I really don’t like living in Lod, I feel like I’m choking there. Here I’m supposed to act like a Muslim because of my father’s family, and it’s hard.

Are you still ashamed to say you’re half-Arab?

I am. I have a very close friend that I didn’t tell that to, because I’m ashamed. I’m afraid that if he finds out I’m half-Arab he’ll draw away from me and he’s very important to me, I like him very much.”

Despite all that, when asked whether she herself would marry a Jew or and Arab, Amada manages to insist:

“If I find a Muslim fiance I’ll mary him. Because I”m half and half I have the option to choose from both worlds. It’s important for me to find a good person, no matter if he’s Arab or Jewish. But my father’s family prefers I marry a Muslim, they keep me from marrying a Jew.”

And finally :

“It’s frustrating. My parents made a mistake and got married and I need to carry their mistake my entire life. I feel like I was born in the wrong place, in the wrong circumstances.”

People who combine identity traits perceived as opposed and mutually exclusive have it the hardest in many contexts; transgendered people come to mind, as do bi-sexuals (who often face disdain not only from heterosexual majorities but from within the LGBT community as well.) But the situation in Israel is exacerbated by the fact that a clear and strictly hierarchical order has been installed in which being an Arab is worse, culturally, economically, politically, than being a Jew; where intermarriage is discourage and has no official process – you usually need to get married abroad if you don’t come from the same ethno-cultural group. And while opposition to intermarriage and racism mixed with misogyny is not uncommon in Israel’s non-Jewish communities, it’s far from confined to Muslim Israelis. In fact, on the Jewish side it has spilled from the family table over to NGO‘s, vigilante militias and municipal inspectors all doing their share to keep Arab and Jewish lovers as far apart as possible.

To me, that a child should be pushed to the conclusion their parents marriage (and their own resulting conception) was a mistake, is beyond outrageous. It is obscene, and underscores the urgency of changing a social order and a culture that puts ethno-cultural group above the others.

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    1. James

      Sounds like a culture clash more than anything else. She’s being pulled in one direction by Muslim conservatism, and in the other by Jewish liberalism. I think Israel is quite tolerant with regards to ethnicity – White Russian christians, Black Ethiopeans, Asian Filipinos have all arrived in their hundreds of thousands.

      Reply to Comment
    2. There used to be a forum for mixed couples, most of them were Jweish women who married Muslim or Christian men, all or most of them Arabs from Israel.

      I read there quite frequently for a few years. Alongside the tragedies there were quite a few success stories, and the families met and became good friends.

      When they went private they still approved me for reading, but last year they deleted this one and moved, don’t know where.

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    3. It’s tragic that this has to be a criterion in any society. It reminds me of the American South before the Civil Rights Movement. The reaction of her Jewish classmates is racist, cowardly, bullying, and all-around despicable, a real disgrace.

      However, the framing of the article by Dimi is off. She was equally rejected by her Muslim side as her Jewish side. And the first commenter is right–although there is self-loathing for something she has no need to be ashamed of, she really finds reactionary Muslim values stifling. Wouldn’t you, Dimi?

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    4. richard Allen

      James, you’re being terribly, willfully naive. Is prank calling and blocking people on facebook an example of “Jewish liberalism”?
      All of the groups you mentioned face quite a bit of discrimination, and Filipinos are temporary, exploited guest-workers, not citizens.

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    5. Inside information

      I’m not belittling her dilemma. At the same time, identity crises at age 14 are hardly uncommon. Neither are catty classmates. And one couldn’t begin to count the number of unfortunate children who believe that their parents’ marriage, and their own conception, was a mistake. None of this necessarily has anything to do with the Arab-Jewish divide.

      This girl is Jewish by Jewish law, and if she chooses to identify as such as an adult, she will, eventually, find a sympathetic ear and be able to move out in that direction on her own. Moreover, there are many other young people in her situation; maybe she’ll find them.

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    6. James

      Exactly, the ‘prank calling’ sounds like garden variety bullying, which occurs to anyone who doesn’t fall into the socially acceptable high school clique. 14 year olds are cruel, especially if you are easily distinguishable from your fellow peers, ie – half Muslim amongst an all Jewish school. Lucy Aharish talks here about being teased at school. http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/lucy-aharish-people-dont-imagine-im-an-arab

      In Bosnia they have segregated schools for the Croats and Bosniaks. The same thing Israel are being criticized for. The Croats and Bosniaks can’t get along so they just live seperately. You don’t hear much about that though.

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      • Bosnia.and.Herzegovina

        You’re not well informed! I’m from Bosnia, and just want to tell you that Muslims and Christians are not separated! Not at all, it was war in Bosnia, almost 20 years ago, but however, Bosnia is multiethnic country. Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians have always lived together, and always will.

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    7. Ben Israel

      Dimi wrote:
      And while opposition to intermarriage and racism mixed with misogyny is not uncommon in Israel’s non-Jewish communities, it’s far from confined to Muslim Israelis. In fact, on the Jewish side it has spilled from the family table over to NGO’s, vigilante militias and municipal inspectors all doing their share to keep Arab and Jewish lovers as far apart as possible.

      As is common here at “progressive” Jewish sites, this thread is designed to show how racist Israel and more specifically, Jews are. We are told the tragic story of how a Muslim man and his Jewish wife have their love thwared due to racism, primarily, Jewish racism. We are told of how vigilante groups ON THE JEWISH SIDE try to keep the poor lovers apart.
      Note the one-sidedness of Dimi’s heartbreaking piece. It is important to note that Dimi does NOT bring us a story of an ARAB WOMAN wanting to marry a JEWISH MAN. Why? Because, whereas under Muslim Sharia laws, Muslim men may marry dhimmi (non-Muslim) women, but it is absolutely forbidden for Muslim women to marry dhimmi men. What is the penalty all too-often for this? DEATH. The infamous “family honor killings” we hear about all the time. So who is more racist? Dimi wants us to think it is the Jews who are the biggest racists and the most “vigilante” about intermarriage. Time to tell the truth, for a change!

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    8. RichardNYC

      “It is obscene, and underscores the urgency of changing a social order and a culture that puts ethno-cultural group above the others.”
      Whose culture is that? And who has the power to change it? The Arabs, or the Jews? Whose racism is a reaction to whose? Any possibility that prejudice is mutually reinforcing?

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    9. Deïr Yassin

      This reminds me a little of what Juliano Mer-Khamis has expressed on various occasions. He tried for years as a young man to present himself as a Jew, using only the name MER, but his Jewish girls friends’ fathers always found out who he was.
      He even joined the army voluntarily to prove that he was a ‘good Jew’, but an incident while patrolling in Jenin (that later became his home, and unfortunately also the place where he was assassinated) where his superior asked him to more or less humiliate an old Palestinian on purpose made him realize that he didn’t belong in the ‘Jewish world’. He refused, they had a fight, he went to prison, and left the army.
      Then he tried ‘the Arab side’ as he called it, he didn’t feel at ease either, and finally he settled for 100% Jewish and 100% Palestinian.
      Hopefully this young girl will find peace in mind too.

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      • Betina

        Very well said!!!!! I wish more people were like you. If more people were like you I would have been happier growing up.

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    10. James

      Perhaps Mer-Khamis should have stayed with the ‘Jewish side’. Then he’d be alive today, instead of murdered for the crime of “spreading western culture”.

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    11. Mesho


      And how exactly do you know who the murderers of Mer-Khamis were?

      Maybe right after the incident you could claim it was Palestinian extremists, but given all the raids the Israelis have done on the Freedom Theater, not to mention arresting several key people involved in the theater, points to something different altogether. Why is Israel going after the Freedom theater? Because it is a means of progress, culture, and maybe, liberation for the Palestinians,

      Also, your elitist, ethnocentric view of life comes through perfectly in your post.

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    12. Deïr Yassin

      I knew some guy would mention that Mer-Khamis killing. I actually expected Ben Israel. You did his job.
      As you probably already know: this was NOT the main issue of my mentioning Mer-Khamis and a red herring.
      Not to say that we don’t know anything else about who killed him other than it surely arranged the State of Israel. IDF has raided the theatre twice, arrested more or less all involved plus the main actor of the up-coming play, and they were NOT doing so to in order to investigate the killing.
      But you apparently have some insider informations. Why don’t you share it with the investigators ?

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    13. Miki

      I have to agree with Richard Allen when he points out that James is being very naive about the racism and discrimination that exists in Israel, not just to Palestinian Arabs but also to non-white Israeli Jews. Dozens and dozens of polls and studies inside Israel have repeatedly shown that Israeli society is not “tolerant”, but is instead riven with racism.

      Not only is Israeli society intolerant of Palestinian Arabs, studies have shown that many Ashkenazi Israeli Jews are intolerant of non-Ashkenazi (ie. non-white Jews). In the last couple of years, polls and studies have shown a steady increase in racism not only against Palestinian Arabs but also against non-white Jews.

      I suggest you read some of the material written by Israeli Mizrahim academic, Dr Sami Shalom Chetrit and by Professor Ella Shohat, who have both written extensively on this subject and about how Israeli Jews who come from Arab backgrounds are systemtically taught to hate their Arab-selves.

      Anyone interested in this issue needs to read Shohat’s, “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the standpoint of its Jewish victims” (the name is a play one of Edward Said’s best known article’s “Zionism from the standpoint of its vicitms”)

      You can read Shohat’s article here: http://kedma.co.il/block/wp-content/uploads/Ella-Shohat-Zionism-from-the-point-of-view.pdf

      Chetrit has also written extensively on this issue. He has noted that since Israel’s creation, Israeli Zionist society has literally attempted to “whitewash” the Arab, Persian other Middle East identities out Jews from these backgrounds. Cherit has argued that Israeli Jews from these backgrounds are indoctrinated into a Jewish history, which is based on European Jewish history, and they are repeated told that Arabs are backward and that ARab culture is inferior (Amanda expresses this very clearly in the interview).

      One just has to read the reports about the Israeli Jewish schooling system and see the studies done of the Israeli school textbooks which have revealed clearly that Arab history and culture is censored out or treated as very second class, to see that this still happening today in Israeli schools.

      This has the effect of teaching children from non-white Jewish backgrounds to hate their Arab-selves and to believe that the Arab part of them is bad and a negative thing.

      Cherit notes that mental struggle between the childs identities because of this negative indoctrination with Israeli Zionist society, results in exactly the self-hatred which is expressed by Amanda.

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    14. Rico

      Shame on everyone whose comments are attempting to make this into a pissing contest about whether the Jewish or Muslim side is more racist. Dimi doesn’t speak directly to this, because it’s NOT what the piece is about, and its NOT important to understand the meaning of this girl’s self-hatred.

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    15. Sam Smith

      A pox on both houses!

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    16. Gabriel

      “I suggest you read some of the material written by Israeli Mizrahim academic, Dr Sami Shalom Chetrit and by Professor Ella Shohat, who have both written extensively on this subject and about how Israeli Jews who come from Arab backgrounds are systemtically taught to hate their Arab-selves.”

      This is an academic matter. The reality in Israel is that yes, there is a lot of hatred against Palestinians and racism against blacks (especially foreign workers) but the Ashkenazi/Mizrachi divide is very minor. Many people I know are mixed Ashkenazi/Mizrachi/Temeni and in all my time in Israel I have never heard anti-Mizrachi prejudice. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but it exists in the same way someone from New York might look down on someone from Georgia.

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    17. FrankGrimes

      I like how the article suggests that all Arabs are Muslim. Or mixes her upbringing as a mix of a race or religion. You can be Arab and Jewish. You can be Arab and Christian. Hell I’ve even met some Arab Buddhists before. It’s funny that people of the Jewish faith think they are a separate race. It’s like saying “one of my parents was Christian but the other was white”…

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    18. Ben Israel

      What those two ‘professors’ say about a supposed increase in intolerance between different groups of Jews is GARBAGE. I think it is ridiculous to even have to point this out but intermarriage between groups is the norm today (anecdotal story-We are Ashkenazim and our son-in-law is Yemenite and our families get along spledidly). The eductation gap between the groups is closing rapidly, and “Edot HaMizrach” people are found everywhere in all positions. End of discussion.
      Regarding the big question: Is Israel an ethnocentric state? The answer is YES, just like all the other countries in this part of the world, and just like the Palestinians, and including Turkey which is becoming far more so, and they are proud of it.

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      • Ra'anan

        I’ve taught at a secular high school in Israel & I’ve observed that the students are becoming much less tolerant towards Arabs. There was also at least one student w/an Arab father & an a Jewish mother. The other students were ambivalent towards him. Some would slightly tease him. I pointed out to them that anyone w/a Jewish mother is 100% Jewish & then they were more accepting.

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    19. Miki

      HI Gabriel, I have to disagree with you that this is an “academic matter”. The work of Cherit and Shohat, while academic is simply a documentation and exploration of a very real phenomenon within Israeli society.

      You just need to read the Israeli papers on a regular basis to see not only the racism against Palestinians Arabs but also the racism towards non-Ashkenazi Jews.

      It appears that perhaps you move in different circles to me because I have seen this type of racism first hand when I have been in Israel. In my experience the racism against Mizrachi Jews is more subtle than the racism against Palestinian Arabs but it still exists and its still racism (to give just one example, a good friend of mine who is from an Ashkenazi Jewish background and his partner who is Mizarchi had to deal with quite a bit of racism. His family was okay with Mizrahis, as long as he was not dating one. Unfortunately, this is quite a common attitude among some Ashkenazi Jews).

      The racism against Mizarhi Jews is also very institutionalised in Israel. Studies for example have shown that Mirzarhim recieve lower wages compared to Ashkenazi Jews, that they are less likely to attend university etc. Also religous Ashkenazi schools have tried on a regular basis to either deny Mirzahi from attending the school or have tried to separate them into separate teaching classes.

      For example in 2009, a school in Peta Tikvah attempted to prevent Ethopian Jewish students from attending the school. In 2010, a Haredi school attempted to at first exclude Mirzahi students and when this was legally challenged then tried to put the students in a separate class from the Ashknazi students. These are just two examples, I could quite easily cite many many more.

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    20. Vickie

      I feel her pain. Growing up with a mixed identity is quite difficult. You never feel like you really fit in anywhere. Because you don’t. You are both. And being both, honoring both, upsets both sides. But it does allow you a level of objectivity that others are denied. You see the BS on both sides. Yet, she probably won’t learn that until she’s a few years older. I pray for her to have patience.

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    21. sh

      It’s a particular problem in Israel because everything’s chopped up into impermeable sectors, but it exists everywhere. There are people who are both Christians and Jews and both Muslims and Jews living all over the globe. It’s hard, I know that from friends. But I’ve always thought that it’s actually a very beautiful thing to be.

      A (fascinating) teacher of mine who fell into that category used to call it having a foot in both camps.

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    22. Ben Israel

      I’ll tell you where there is institutionalized anti-“Mizrachi” attitudes….IN THE INSTITUTIONS CONTROLLED BY LEFT-WING SECULAR ASHKENAZIM. Like the Labor Party, like MERETZ, like KADIMAH. Remember when Amir Peretz won the Labor Party primaries a few years ago, beating Shimon Peres? Peres’ brother went on television and said Peretz’s people were like “Franco’s fascist hordes in Spain”. Peres’ brother is a good, secular pro-Palestinian Left-wing Israeli.
      It is also true that there are few “Mizrachi” professors in the Left-wing dominated University faculties.
      However, it is nonsense to claim that difference in education and income between different ethnic groups is due to a concious partern or discrimination.
      Also, do not mix-up the different religious groups in Israel. The Haredim are much more concious of ethnic background than the National Religious.

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    23. Philos

      Ben Israel, Gabriel and James: you don’t know what it’s like to be a Mizrachi in Israel so shut up. I do. However, because I am mixed (non-Jewish and Jewish) I turned out white skinned and blue eyed (a rare combination of recessive Semitic genes and Northern European). But the racism and discrimination and self-hatred indoctrinated into Mizrachim is real and existent. Look at Eli Yishai; he dresses in Lithuanian clothing and he is the leader of “Moroccan pride”? That’s like a Black Panther putting on make-up to whiten his skin.
      The fact that my grand-parents and parent were systematically punished for speaking Arabic so that I, as a third-generation, know nothing of the language is a disgrace. The fact that Mizrachim are torn between the brown faces looking back at them in the mirror and the demand by Israeli society to be white is something none of you can even begin to understand.
      It always made me uncomfortable that I was considered “special” because I was born the blond gift from heaven. My hair and eye color is all some of my relatives can find pride in nevermind my other achievements because I am easily accepted (in their eyes) into acceptable Zionist society.

      However, being mixed I am frequently asking at the airport, by ordinary people and sometimes as an insult, “Are you even Jewish?” Why? Because I look a Crusader or something? Because my features aren’t quite Semitic enough? I’ve been taken aside by airport security on numerous occasions and questioned at length about Jewish pop history. I can’t even imagine what it must be like if I had been named Sayed or Ahmed. I sympathize with this girl (she’ll always be a stranger and she’ll have to make peace with that) and her self-loathing is symptomatic of the self-loathing of all Arab Jew’s in this country where our langauge, culture and history has been routinely excluded, derided and suppressed. The only thing of Arab Jewish culture that is acceptable in Israel is our culinary abilities because, c’mon, who really likes gefilte fish?

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    24. Before reading this story, I’d been watching a documentary about Muslim life in Dearborn, Michigan. Modern father just seemed 2 hate his 16-year-old daughter’s decision 2 adopt the headscarf (hijab?). I wanted 2 jump in (& I had 2 mute until they get 2 philosophy more generally) on the side of the girl 4 these reasons: I live in dense immigrant neighborhood in which 3 of my closest young highschool age friends (just my bldg. & right nextdoor) ALL became fathers at age 17, the latest a younger brother following in his brother’s footsteps)! NONE were prepared, all were accidental, & same all over, kids marrying 2 young 4 lack of better education & opportunities in life. I WANT 2 YELL at father, but she deserves help in keeping boys’ hands off her until she better knows their wicked ways & hearts! not inherently wicked, socially wicked, so many corruptions 2B struggled against, but help is needed NOW in the case of young women! Father wants her 2B strong & sees the hijab as not that, but I wonder if he realizes she’s in greatest danger at the very age he hoping 2 win the argument! He’s especially afraid of outside-of-Dearborn prejudice & worse. So, go figure, but please, think of this girl first, the hell with jumping further, problems everywhere, but children MUST B the independent variable in the equation. So there’s the positive (valuing one’s body & sexuality against rampant male aggression just 4 satisfaction’s sake, employing all manner of deceptions) . . . and there’s the negative, thinking you know what’s going on inside that veil without attempting 2 find out who’s really there, discouraging & as we see here, downright vicious & wrong, because indeed 14-year-olds can B very mean, but it is society’s job 2 teach & rebuke when teasing crosses impermissibly hateful lines. I see enough hate & prejudice right here in my week of serious attention to +972 to make me stop & think a little bit more about Israel’s special needs, but really doubt it’s any different from the U.S. South B4 our Civil Rights Acts of 1964 & 1965. We endured nearly 100 years of vicious, legally re-inforced racism, but not as bad is Israel on a state basis. On a state basis, the comparison with Warsaw ghetto the most appropriate. So, you think there’s some other path than straight out challenge 2 apartheid, segregation, call it what you will, it’s morally & legally (at last Universal Code of Human Rights) wrong & repugnant, the society that tortures so its innocents!

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    25. I was not intending 2 light a fire over ‘Warsaw’ . . . in referring 2 local & social wickedness infecting my boys, I was referring 2 boys I love like an uncle within a central american community within which I’ve lived since my father was buried 24 years ago, the children growing up ‘modern’ & dominant-culture-seeking & speaking . . . considering my hopes 4 their arrival & the temptations that have seriously challenged & undermined them, ‘wickedness of dominant culture’ does not seem 2 strong a word 2 me. So those words apply 2 me & my latino ghetto world, not just accusations thrown at others. (I do think there are huge overlaps in our cultures, but also time lags in progress.) But much, much, much more racism, prejudice & hate just right here in comments & postings than anywhere in my urban world despite all our troubles!

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    26. It has 2B fought, racism does, & I’ve happily engaged myself in that struggle more than 40 years, still growing, but always here (not so much now, but years past, upon the early arrival of my friends) the easy, racist path, encouraged by dominant culture, was 2 turn brown immigrants into black-despising brown wannabes hoping 2 curry favor & possible racist acceptance within some part of the dominant culture opportunistically so inviting! IT MUST B VIGOROUSLY OPPOSED upon expression or immediately as possible, cannot be avoided, if true peace is to reign, which half-century’s record-level-low homicide statistics 4 City & County demonstrate! My friends did not arrive with these ideas, 2 the contrary, but they began 2 appear within their first 10 years here, late 80’s & through the 90’s!

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    27. Ben Israel

      Philos-Don’t be so condescending. Although I am Ashkenazi, we have Yemenites in the family and a very good friend of mine is Moroccan. His family came in 1961 as was sent to the northern border area. His wife is Yeminite and they were also sent to the northern border area when they came. All come from large families and virtually ALL the children are educated and successful. My friend has a PhD from the Technion. They worked for their success and their skin color didn’t stop them from working hard to get ahead. I know very well that the original MAPAI-secular Ashkenazi Establishment was discriminatory, they still are. But people who wanted to get ahead and didn’t and whine about their problems did so. I know this for a fact. I am also aware that the MAPAI establishment did not encourage children in the development towns to go into academics, but many did so anyway. Every society that has multiple ethnic groups has racism but considering how many different types of Jews were thrown together under very difficult conditions of war and economic deprivation, Israel is a big success story and the source of inspiration to other countries with similar problems.

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    28. I don’t see how a society that devotes itself 2 separation can really proudly call itself ‘society’ in any uplifting sense at all. What example, what leadership do you provide your young thus? How can this poor young girl ever feel as good as she ought 2 feel about herself if the adults be so childish instead, which you are, friends, from afar & up-close2! You should hate hatred, fear & separation if you truly wish 2 call yourself human, & do all within your power 2 oppose, reduce & eliminate! you don’t get there without a demand of yourselves as adults, & evidence in the thinking of your young today does not reflect well on you yet (or anymore?)!

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    29. Philos

      Ben Israel, personal anecdotes aside are you so blinded by nationalism that you’re unwilling to admit that in Israel there exists racial discrimination against its Jewish majority of Arab origin? Are you so insecure in your identity, in your patriotism, that you can’t admit that there is a pecking order and it is based on two things: the size of your bank account and your skin color? In my books that makes you unpatriotic.

      C’mon man. You didn’t even relate to the fact of which group suffer the most poverty, homelessness, crime and dispossession. Over and above the socio-economic discrimination there is the cultural discrimination that continues to this day. You dismiss it as whining you Ashknasnic wisdom. Apparently us Mizrachim aren’t entitled to a cultural heritage from our home countries even though no one blinks twice to see Shtettel Jews walking around in their Medieval Shtettle clothing. I wonder what would happen if I put on my great-grand father’s Kaffeyeh? Did you Jews wore Kaffeyeh? Probably not.

      You have no answer to why someone like Eli Yishai and other “proud” Moroccans, Yemenites, whatever dress up like Europeans. Iraqis in this country aren’t aware of the richness of their history in Mesopotamia because they’re not taught about in school other than silly stories from the Bible. For, example, the whole Jewish Revolt is taught from a European and Zionist perspective as an example of early Jewish solidarity. However, if it was taught properly then Israelis would learn how the established and populous Jewish population in Mesopotamia refused to come to the aid of the rebels, opposed them and advised the King of Parthia not to get involved and let the Romans sort them out. Oh heaven forbid the facts might effect the Zionist narrative…

      And stop blaming MAPAI you hypocrite. The Likud aren’t innocent either. They exploited Mizrachi discontentment (to the detriment of collective Israeli identity) but did nothing to further their causes and they exploited that discontent in the most base manner of all. They told them, “You’re better than Arabs” which led to the disgraceful race to this day of which party from left or right can be more anti-Arab. And look at the Likud leadership today. The so-called party of the Mizrachim… where are they in the leadership? Oh right we have Shama-Cohen but he was so tired of being called an “upstanding Arab citizen, a real example to all Arabs” that he added Cohem to his last name. Case closed. Israel can’t even swallow the Arabic origins of its Jewish citizens and the fact you have some Yemenites in your family doesn’t mean diddly squat if every time they look in the mirror they despise the visage that looks back at them for still being not quite Ashknasi enough…

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    30. Richard Allen

      Why has no one even mentioned that the Mizrahi self-loathing is misplaced anyway, because they’re so much better looking than us?

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    31. Edna Richards

      Amanda, your parents marriage wasn’t a mistake, and you aren’t a mistake either. The only mistake your parents made was not emigrating to a country where mixed marriages are tolerated, and multiculturalism is considered a good thing, not a crime.When you are older you can explore the world and find a place to settle where you can be accepted for who you are as a person,and not solely based on who or what your parents were.

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    32. Miki

      Ben Israel as Philos points out the institutionalised racism against Mizrachi has been something that has been supported and promoted ACROSS the political spectrum in Israel. You can pretend this is not the case but it is a well documented fact.

      The only nonsense here is your claim that institutionalised discrimination and racism does not exist in Israel against Mizrahi Jews, as well as other minorities such as Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.

      It very typical for those who have never experienced this discrimination or racism to dismiss it and claim it doesn’t exist.

      However study upon study, including ones conducted by various Israeli governments, have documented that such racism and discrimination exists, inlcuding in the educational sphere, as well as in relation to income and other social indicators.

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    33. ARTH

      The mistake here, was to stay in Israel. We don’t know anything about the quality of the relationship between her parents which is, relevant. Assuming that it was good, and for the sake of their love and their progeny, they should have left Israel.

      The issue of religion is as relevant as the issue of ethnicity. Many of the problems with her father’s side of the family are more the result of them being conservative Muslims, rather than being Arab.

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    34. Davka

      Interesting discussion, but I take issue with expressions such as ‘Arab Jews’. There is no Arab identity anymore than there is a Hispanic or Francophone one. ‘Arab’ is a fabricated identity imposed on Middle Eastern peoples by the West. There are Jews, Berbers, Copts, Maronites,Assyrians, Kurds – none of whom identify as Arab. Even many Egyptians don’t identify as Arab.
      As a Mizrahi married to an Ashkenazi I agree with Ben Israel that discrimination is exaggerated and that the worst offenders are Ashkenazi leftists. Mizrahi suffering under Arab rule is an embarrassment to them. Show me one Ashkenazi leftist prepared to talk about antisemitism in Arab countries or stand up for Mizrahi property rights in east Jerusalem or Hebron, let alone Baghdad or Benghazi where Jews were massively dispossessed ? This is because Ashkenazi leftists have constructed a false alliance of Mizrahim and Arabs against the Israeli establishment and will not support anyone who contradicts their rosy picture of pre-Zionist coexistence.

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    35. Philos

      Davka, please show me any Ashkansi that will support Mizrachi property rights withing the Green Line? Right only when it dovetails into the settler program. Nevermind, that the absentee law was also applied to many Mizrachim who bought properties in the 30s that were later handed over to Ashknasi moshavim and kibbutzim. There’s a really nice development in Rishpon that made the Ashknasi “owners” really wealthy… too bad we still have the title deed showing purchase by a certain Baghdadi. Actually, it’s too bad that the courts refused our claims and arrested a couple of relatives for attempting to squat on the land back in the early 90s.

      Plus the idea that Leftists tried to ally Mizrachim with Arab’s is totally obnoxious and unhistorical. MAPAI-Labor and Likud since 1966 did everything they could to break any link between Mizrachim and Arabs starting off with the decision to make the Histradut exclusively for Jews. And to claim there isn’t an Arab identity is a stretch. There is a broad Hispanic identity (they share cultural references, literary references and linguistic references) and the same is true for the Arabs. I also object to the use of Mizrachi dispossession by the Right as a tool to thwart peace negotiations because it just goes to show that as far as the Ashknasic elite views Mizrachim we are nothing but a tool. If they really cared then they’d also fight to enforce our property rights within Israel proper. They’d also be sympathetic to calls for inquiries into the forced separations of families in the 50s, the use of DDT on refugees in the camps and the long list of complaints from the early part of the state. Naturally, Rightists call such talk unpatriotic and Leftists call it irrelevant because the mud sticks to both.

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    36. Deïr Yassin

      “The Other Arabs”, a documentary by Wafaa al-Natheema with Ella Shohat, Naïm Giladi and other Iraqi Jews. The introductory remarks by Zvi Ben Dor, professor of history at the NYU, are interesting (cf. trailer one).

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    37. Philos

      Thanks for the link DY. Interesting documentary. It also just occurred to me re-reading Davka’s post that for Rightist Zionists the Arab identity isn’t coherent enough for Jews of Arab origin to identify as such (hence, Mizrachi/Oriental); YET, the Arab nation is coherent enough for them to deny the existence of Palestinian nationhood (Plan Jordan and all that trash).

      I’ve only become aware now of this cognitive dissonance.

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    38. Deïr Yassin

      @ Philos
      First of all, sorry for past harshness in my responses to you 🙂
      I think Ben Israel’s use of “Sephardic” is beating it all, and his attempt to (mis)use the Mizrahi in his eternal Jihad on ‘progressives’ (c.f. his reply to you on another thread, obviously ignoring your Mizrahi origins) and ‘Lefties’, i.e. everyone to the left of Kadimah.

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    39. Davka

      Sorry Deir Yassin that link is rubbish. Just because I speak Arabic and use Arabic cultural references does not make me an Arab.
      Re. rights of Mizrahim within the Green line at least they have recourse to the Israeli courts which is more than you can say for Mizrahim wishing to reclaim their property in Baghdad!

      You are talking about Zionist Rightists as if they are separate from Mizrahim – in fact the Zionist right is mostly composed of Mizrahim. It has taken long enough for the Israeli government to stand up for Mizrahi rights, something which leftists like Yossi Beilin were not prepared to uphold – and it was Shas which initiated the law on compensation for Jewish refugees as part of a ME peace deal. Who cares if Mizrahi rights are a tool, it’s a matter of elementary justice. Peace cannot take root without justice on both sides.

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    40. sarah

      Philos is all wet. My family is half Ashkenazi and half Moroccon; we are all very close–and family members have married gingi Ashkenazi women, as well as Temeni and Mitzrachi women. My brother is married to a girl of Iranian descent. This is ridiculous: an entire generation ago, the Labor Left socialists reserved the best schools, academic tracks and jobs for their own (happened to be Ashkenazi) Labor Left Socialist children—it wasn’t “racism” so much as it was socialists with a superiority complex. But not to worry–we’re all intermarrying now; everyone in my family speaks Arabic, English and a bit of Farsi and Spanish along with Hebrew. The Ashkenazi Left, if they ever had a monopolistic grip on opportunity in this country, are losing it—and you know why? Because the secular Left have 2 children, and we, the traditional proud Morrocan/Iranian/Turkish/North and South American mix — we have six. Do the math.

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    41. Philos

      Davka said, “Sorry Deir Yassin that link is rubbish. Just because I speak Arabic and use Arabic cultural references does not make me an Arab.”
      So what does that make you? It certainly doesn’t make you a Latino…. Also, African-American’s have recourse to a court system in the USA but it doesn’t seem to help them much.

      Sarah; you’re still having trouble computing that you’re not white enough (although maybe you come from the Ashknasi side of the family; I don’t know) when you write that “it wasn’t racism so much as it was socialists with a superiority complex.” Yes’um, it wasn’t so much racism as land owners from Alabama with a superiority complex.

      Neither of you can address the fact that to be authentically “Mizrachi” is still frowned upon and neither of you can address the issue of that fact that brown Jewish people here wish they were white Jewish people. If that isn’t symptomatic of a racist society then please tell me what is. Hell, Davka, you meet most of the check-boxes to be an Arab but can’t even identify as such because you can’t get around the European brainwashing you’ve undergone about Jewishness. Ashknasi’s walk around saying “I’m a European. I can get a [insert East or Central European State Here] passport.” But, WE, are just Mizrachim. We have no history, no culture, no roots. Our lives began in the 1950s in a camp on a demolished village that became Or Yehuda.

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    42. Deïr Yassin

      @ Davka
      I’m sorry if that link – which is in fact a documentary with 12 well-known Iraqi Jews – doesn’t please you.
      If Iraqi Jews as Ella Shohat and Naïm Giladi or Moroccan Jews as Sapho, Avraham Serfaty and Edmond Amran Elmaleh (who both died last year) or André Azoulay claim themselves to be Arab Jews who are YOU to deny them that right ???
      Others claim that there is A Jewish people and as an outsider I could ask: what does an Ashkenazi atheist from New York who speaks no Hebrew have in common with an Yemeni orthodow who speaks nothing else than Hebrew (and Arabic), but it’s really none of my business how people identify themselves.

      Being an Arab is simply having Arabic as your maternal language, nothing else, and the peoples [in plural] called Arabs include many different ethnic groups. In spite of all the ‘divide-and-rule’-politics in Israel, the Druze are Arabs, for instance.
      If a Jew with Arabic as his maternal language claim that he is not an Arab, that’s fine with me – it’s his problem and his choice – but maybe you should respect those who claim otherwise.
      A friend of mine is married with a Lebanese Maronite who used to claim that he’s a Phoenician, and not an Arab. She always cuts him off, saying ‘How come you speak no Phoenician then ?’. He has changed since July 2006 though ….

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    43. Philos

      Haha a Phoenician… that must make me a Babylonian then or maybe a member of the People’s Judean Front, or is it the Judean People’s Front? Ah how dull the world would be without identity politics… 🙂

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    44. Y.

      There’s something illiberal and perverse about trying to force people to define themselves as Arab when:
      A) They don’t want to define themselves as such, and historically, most of them did not**.
      B) The Arabs don’t and never did want to define them as Arabs (which is one of the reasons they were driven out in the first place).
      C) They share actually rather little with the Arabs (including the vast majority not-speaking Arabic. And since when did belonging was decided by language alone? Are we all English?).
      I think the key is the perception by some that to be “authentic” one must be Arab/European/anything other than Jew/ combined with far-Left politics which would say about everything just to avoid a Jewish identity (that would imply national demands, and so would be bad for the narrative). So we have people like Shlomo Sand and Chipper on the ‘European’ side, and like Giladi on the ‘Mizrachi’ side. What’s so bad with having the cultural heritage of Jews and of your Edah without baggage? There’s no need for validation from any others – this is particularly ridiculous for ME Jews which lived there before Arabs even existed…
      ** One might for example consider all these Jews in the Maghreb which took French names, got French citizenship, and so on. Or Aramic-speaking northern Iraqi Jews, or Egyptian Jews were 70% did not have Egyptian citizenship and were typically referred to as “khawaga” (foreigner) etc. etc. Oh, wait, that’s not convenient for the radical Left narrative.
      P.S. I have to wonder whether Philos lives in Israel. First, “Medieval Shtettle” dress is actually widely ridiculed. And people like Yishai adopted Ashkenazi customs from before Israel even existed:
      Second, the “Great Revolt” was always taught as a time of disunity. We can start from the Talmudic story of Kamza and Bar-Kamza… I don’t recall if my schooling mention that, but it was pretty heavy on the division between the ‘Kanaim’ and the more moderate leadership.

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    45. davka

      What Y. said!
      To Deir Yassin: what do Yemeni orthodox Jews have in common with NY atheists? That’s the magic of belonging to the Jewish people.

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    46. salim

      When some like to talk about ethnicity and religion, they should be very aware this domain means a lot in depth.

      Religions are not specific to one ethnicity religions spreads all along the world and the believers of those well religions are drives.

      Bach to ethnicity here ethnics are different is part of the colour of societies that have deep root in history, land, blood and sharing history.

      When talking about Jews why some insisted to bring this matter over the ethnicity of the people who believe in Jewishness? Why things different for other religions and we accepted as its? Why we denial this when it comes to people who are Jews?

      You need to think deeper and correct yourself in this matter

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    47. Steve bronfman

      The article states “the situation in Israel is exacerbated by the fact that a clear and strictly hierarchical order has been installed in which being an Arab is worse, culturally, economically, politically, than being a Jew” yet at least half of the examples are of muslim “racism” against Jews.

      The worst that happens to the girl is a phonecall from some other students, in many Muslim countries a Muslim girl would be murdered by her family in an honor killing for marrying a Jew yet somehow Jews are presented as “racists”. Incidently this isn’t about “racism” as Jews and Arabs are (by and large) the same race. Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews are very closely related to Palestinians. This is strictly a religious issue misrepresented using a preexisitng but incorrect American template.

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    48. Karl Lee

      I want to tell this girl that I may feel sorry for her situation. However, she will only feel life is right when she acknowledge and accept her own half arab identity. What is wrong to be half arab? If you don’t treat me cool when knowing I am half arab, fuck you. Being arab is not a shame, being jewish is not a shame. Being a mix…. I don’t see why it is not adorable. Find yourself and then you will have a peaceful mind. If you deny your own arab part of identity, you will never look at yourself straight, and you will not find your pride. Don’t be such a pathetic. Find yourself, Girl. God loves you, no matter what his name is.

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      • There is no shame in being anything really, nevertheless, when a group of people constantly fail to act human: fail to argue without screaming or yelling, fail to respect and accept other religions and cultures without calling them names and most importantly always fail to give their kids loving, long-tight hugs; Then being ashamed to be a part of that group is only natural.

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    49. Lao Ying

      Is not such intermarriage forbidden by the Torah?

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    50. Rachamim Dwek

      The only “self loathing” was that of the author. 28 Jews, two token Palestinians (one of each gender of course) and still using the colours of the Palestinian Flag. Instead of labeling an entire nation as racist based upon the opinion of a single adolescent, and then propagandising it for all its worth, why not take aim at the REAL racism plagueing the region?

      By law Israelis are prevented from entering Areas A and B and Sector H1. In reality, only Jews are arrested when entering. Yet, that is nothing compared to the PA Law that mandates execution to any Palestinian even leasing land to a Jew. Apartheid? South Africa never executed people for leasing or selling land to blacks. This makes the PA the most racist regime on the face of the planet.

      You claim to be reporting on both sides of the dynamic. When will you be covering THESE issues?

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