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Stop excusing the 'have-nots' for racism and violence

The riots in South Tel Aviv are further evidence of the violent racism among Israel’s Sephardi underclass. It’s part of a worldwide, historic phenomenon among poor people that the left doesn’t want to face up to.  

As a matter of principle, I think Israel has to relocate the great majority of African refugees from South Tel Aviv’s poor Jewish neighborhoods. It isn’t fair to the Hatikva and Shapira quarters to have to absorb such a large, alien, troubled and in some ways troubling population when middle-class and upper-class Israel don’t have to absorb any refugees at all.  I believe that if left to its own devices, society will turn to the law of the jungle, to the strong eating the weak and the rich eating the poor, and that it is society’s moral duty to try to even things out as much as practically possible. It’s market forces that have routed the refugees to South Tel Aviv, and it’s up to society, through the government, to reroute them, to spread them around the country for the sake of the Israelis being inundated by them.  

But again, for me this is a matter of principle – liberal principle and patriotic principle, too: I also think people have a responsibility to their countrymen. So on both counts, I want relief from the refugee crisis for the Israelis in South Tel Aviv. But while I sympathize with them, and fully appreciate that they’re feeling the heat of this crisis while middle-class liberals like me are not, I’m not going to pretend that they are not directly responsible for this lurid spectacle of anti-black violence and cruelty that’s been going on the last couple of weeks. 

Yes, the residents are being incited by Knesset members Miri Regev, Michael Ben-Ari and others – but they want to be. They don’t need demagogues to help them hate these “niggers,” these “monkeys” as so many of them call the Africans – they’re bursting with aggression against them, and the demagogues just provide the necessary leadership to turn it into action. Those people are not being manipulated; when Regev told the crowd in Hatikva that the Sudanese were a “cancer,” she brought them closer to the boiling point, but she wasn’t telling them anything they didn’t already know – she was telling them what they wanted to hear. It’s not an accident that the residents are listening to the words of Ben-Ari (a Kahanist who, incidentally, grew up in the neighborhood) and not those of, say, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On. 

I have some familiarity with Hatikva. My wife has been a social worker there for 21 years. I’ve been there dozens of times, interviewed scores upon scores of people there for stories. It’s the capital of the “second Israel,” of the Sephardi underclass. The Sephardi music revolution was centered there, legendary Sephardi mafia figures grew up there, the Yemenite cafes and Middle Eastern grills on Ha’etzel Street are fantastic, and there’s plenty of ethnic consciousness and resentment around. I think of Hatikva as Israel’s Harlem. 

But liberal it’s not; tolerant it’s not. It used to be heartland Likud country, but now it’s Likud, Shas, National Union and Yisrael Beitenu, and even before people started spray-painting threats to the “niggers,” they were spray-painting “Kahane was right” and “death to the Arabs.” I remember a newspaper photo from the very beginning of the second intifada: It showed a young Arab man who worked and slept nights at one of the grills on Ha’etzel Street running in his boxer shorts from a crowd of neighborhood residents who’d rousted him out of bed. The faces in the crowd didn’t look angry; they looked gleeful. 

Racism against blacks isn’t exactly new for the folks in South Tel Aviv, either. A few years ago I went to a Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer game in Jaffa’s Bloomfield Stadium, and throughout the match there were scattered chants of “hoo-hoo-hoo” – monkey sounds – at black players on the opposing team. When one of them scored a goal, the section for hardcore Maccabi fans erupted in a long, enraged chorus of “hoo-hoo-hoo” at the top of their lungs.

They were all, or virtually all, lower-middle-class Sephardim like the mobs in Hatikva you see on TV screaming, breaking windows and chasing refugees. They’re the same sort as the mob of Betar Jerusalem soccer fans who beat and kicked every Arab customer and worker they could find in the capital’s Malha Mall a couple of months ago.

For 40 years and more, Israel’s Sephardi poor and not-so-poor have been complaining about being discriminated against by the Ashkenazi elite, and now those in South Tel Aviv, the “flagship” of the Sephardi poor, have turned into a rampaging, Hebrew-speaking Ku Klux Klan. Yes, there have been a couple of murders and a couple of rapes by African refugees, and there’s a lot of dereliction and public drunkenness and theft – but Hatikva and poor Sephardi neighborhoods like it have produced their full share and more of murderers, rapists, drunks, thieves and such. This has gone way, way beyond a backlash against crime or an attempt to preserve neighborhood character; this is an attack on black African gentiles who are seen as an inferior breed. And in neighborhoods like Hatikva, it’s perfectly in character.

I know there are a lot of poor and working-class Sephardim in these neighborhoods who are against the violence and racism. Where are they? Why aren’t they counter-demonstrating or at least raising their voices? Because they’re afraid, and I don’t blame them. The fascists own the “street” and the local debate. 

This is a terrible thing for liberals and leftists to face. We (overwhelmingly middle-class Ashkenazim) think of ourselves as being in solidarity with the poor, with the oppressed – but how can we be in solidarity with people when they’ve turned into Brownshirts? 

So here’s what liberals and leftists are saying: It’s not the Hatikva residents’ fault, they’re being incited by cynical politicians, they’ve been neglected by the government just like the refugees, they’re victims of the government’s lack of policy, too, and we liberals and leftists stand with the people of South Tel Aviv just like we stand with the refugees. The ones responsible for the riots are the cynical Netanyahu government and the despicable inciters. 

Try going down to Ha’etzel Street and delivering that message. Just make sure there are no holes in your boxer shorts.

This has been a contradiction at the heart of left-wing ideology from the beginning: Poverty, ignorance, violence and oppression are evils that we must eradicate – but the people who’ve suffered these evils are really cool. They mean no one any harm. They’re innocent souls, our allies.  

It’s not true in Hatikva and it’s not true in Africa, either. In South Africa, many Zimbabwean work migrants have been burned or stoned to death by local mobs accusing them of taking their jobs and stealing. All over the world, it’s the poor and lower-middle-class (among a nation’s majority ethnic group) that tend to be the most nationalistic, most racist and most pumped up for war.

I want a better deal for the underclass, in Israel and elsewhere, but not because I like them or because I think  the “culture of poverty” is redemptive or makes people better – but precisely because I think the culture of poverty tends to make people worse. If it didn’t, why try to end it?

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    1. Practical advice

      I suggest you, tzfonim, take them to your Ramat-Aviv and share “couple of rapes and murders” with the rest of country.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      The pogrom mob of south Tel Aviv is composed of the dregs of Israeli society, and they represent the most violent, aggressive and ignorant section of Israeli society. Rather than clean that neighborhood and help these animals to develop their humanity and escape their jungle, Netanyahu and his inciters-in-chief fan the flames of their hatred. Netanyahu is the chief culprit of what happened in south Tel Aviv last week, and I would expect world leaders to fully bring him to task over his government’s abysmal failure to provide for the welfare of its most vulnerable people.

      Reply to Comment
    3. XYZ

      As Lenny Bruce once said “Liberals (or in our case, Leftist/Progressives) understand everything except those who don’t understand them”.
      If it is possible to “understand” Palestinian racism and violence, then it is should be possible to “understand” racism and violence if they come from Jews. Period.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Rafael

      There’s no such thing as Palestinian racism. What there is is a hatred against the occupier. This is no more racism than Anglophobia in the South Asian continent during colonial days.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Wow, Larry, you are on a roll. I just wish people on the left *and* on the right had a fraction of your honesty.
      The unstated corollary is that this is one of the reasons people in the lower classes identify with the right and hate the left. (Israel is a special case, though, because the Israeli left was always racist against the Mizrahim; so there are multiple reasons.)
      If the left is ever to have a chance with the Mizrahim, the left has to accept them as they are, bigotry and all. Not much chance of that, though – as you said, the left is obscenely patronizing and condescending. I’m sure we’ll see more of that in the replies to your article: fairy tales about how the Mizrahim became racist in order to be accepted by a hegemonic racist Israeli culture, and more nonsense like that.
      By calling the Mizrahim racists – a generalization, obviously – you’re actually treating them with respect and dignity. I mean that. When other leftists blame demagogues or a Government That Doesn’t Care, they’re patronizing the Mizrahim and treating them the way they treat Arabs, like children.

      Reply to Comment
    6. This is politically and historically illiterate gibberish. You don’t have to be an Israeli to see that, you just have to have some familiarity with politics and history. First of all, you have to be able to distinguish between liberalism and leftism. But that is already too much to ask, because it would involve reading books, instead of newspapers — boring books about politics and history.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Danny

      “By calling the Mizrahim racists – a generalization, obviously – you’re actually treating them with respect and dignity. I mean that. When other leftists blame demagogues or a Government That Doesn’t Care, they’re patronizing the Mizrahim and treating them the way they treat Arabs, like children.”
      The mizrahim ARE Arabs (they just don’t know it, or refuse to accept it). Part of the reason why mizrahim are some of the most notorious racists in Israel (Miri Regev would be considered black in some countries), is that – in my opinion – they are trying to project their insecurities at being some of the lowest members of Israeli Jewish society unto another, lower group. As Amira Hass observed this week in Haaretz, there is a clear pecking order in Israeli society, and the mizrahim feel they are being shoved aside by other lower casts, such as the Russians and the Ethiopians. Hence their violence and aggression towards the foreigners. In short – Israeli society is terribly sick. I wish there was a way to help a disturbed country, the way disturbed people are helped. But there isn’t.

      Reply to Comment
    8. aristeides

      Israel, in toto, has cultivated racism among its population for decades. This is how the authorities want it. The mentality of “them vs us” is essential to support the occupation, the warmongering. Nothing is ever done to promote tolerance.

      The US has seen a remarkable decrease in racism (and antisemitism) over the same time period. This isn’t an accident, it’s the result of concentrated effort at all levels of society and government.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Don't worry

      Be happy, leftists, you and your external islamist “friends” take care of our unity.
      They will turn you into our brothers once couple of missiles (“or rapes”) will hit Ramat-Aviv.

      Reply to Comment
    10. “The US has seen a remarkable decrease in racism (and antisemitism) over the same time period. This isn’t an accident, it’s the result of concentrated effort at all levels of society and government.”
      Over the same time period? You mean, since the 1960s, I suppose. Well, desegregation has occurred, formally speaking, just like south African apartheid has ended, formally speaking. As for antisemitism, I think you are probably just referring to the permissible limits of public speech, which have tightened, but this has merely produced a right-wing backlash against ‘political correctness’. The most violent form of racism in the US now is anti-Hispanic, with anti-Asian (‘Muslim’) feeling running second. If you insist on maintaining and extending a global empire that plunges whole subcontinents into chronic starvation, then you will get waves of desperate migration, which will cause backlashes, and if you’re a ‘liberal’, then you will talk hypocritical nonsense about it and avoid the issue.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Jack Foreigner

      As I get older, I believe more and more that many things are just predestined. And indeed, there is even scientific evidence to support the notion that people are actually born with a tendency towards being conservative or liberal, irrespective of socioeconomic class.

      It’s like people who willingly smoke cigarettes or marijuana…or those who willingly submit themselves — and their finances — over to religious authorities…I think it’s just a matter of personality. And some people just want to be nice and fair while others have a really intense need for things to stay the same, niceties and ethics be damned.

      And so this is the thing no one wants to confront seriously, since it is much easier to look for answers than to sit with a question: what do you do if people are simply born liberal or conservative?

      Democracy is as much predicated on reasoned debate as it is on majority rule, but what if the majority of folks are simply born unreasonable, conservative, self-centered and perfectly fine with it whatever their necessarily noble rhetoric??

      Any parent knows that boys are usually more aggressive than girls, naturally, no matter the environment. Is it so hard to imagine that there are just people who are born a certain way such that they are conservative, racist, ignorant, and even proud of it all?

      Conservatives believe that we will always have poor people.

      Maybe it’s time for liberals to believe that we will always have conservative people, even if they are poor themselves, even if they are screwed by the very leaders they support — such are abused children, after all, and it’s rare for even an abused dog to turn against its master.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Power?

      Don’t mean to tell you “I told you so”, but, um, I told you so.
      Every time a worshipper of Mohammed blew herself up on a schoolbus YOU liberals were the first to try to understand the “root causes” and to justify their actions. Every time a Jew was assaulted on the streets of Europe YOU liberals were the first to ‘understand the root cause’ of Quranic violence.
      Riots and Shari’ah stone throwing was called non-violent. Advocacy of genocide was explained as legitimate “politics”.
      Well, what goes around comes around. You justified everything that the “Palestinians” did – well justify this! If its moral to blow up a bus full of Jewish children, then its moral to run the Quranics out of South Tel Aviv.
      If throwing stones is non-violent protest when committed in Mohammed’s name; then its non-violent when committed AGAINST Mohammedan.
      Hold off condemning your enemies – the Jews – for acting exactly the way that you on the left and your allies in “Palestine” have always acted.

      Reply to Comment
    13. I often think it’s comical – Fal, lal, la!
      How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
      That every boy and every gal
      That’s born into the world alive
      Is either a little Liberal
      Or else a little Conservative!
      Fal, lal, la!
      — Gilbert & Sullivan, “Iolanthe”
      Well, I hate liberals, so I must be a conservative. My economics are marxist, but I’m not a materialist. Some would probably say I was a fascist, just because of that.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Freedom of Speech?

      Hey tolerance specialists, turn your fixed eyes 200km up to the North and see 11000 killed last year in Syria, where Al-Qaida is fighting with Assad. Who do you prefer?
      Or, Ahmadi spinning his nuke, which will set you free.
      Or your Egyptian brothers with their beloved Google: Global Caliphate.
      Feminists, especially, will find the rest in their harem.
      Don’t focus so much on couple of broken windows of the same car shot from all directions.
      BTW, why dont you post opinions you dont like? BECAUSE OF TOLERANCE 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    15. aristeides

      No, Rowan, it’s a substantive change, an effective change. It’s not a complete change. Bigotry is like weeds, it’ll keep springing back up, you need constant vigilance to keep it from taking hold.

      I don’t think the Israeli underclass is inherently any more vile or hate-filled than other equivalent layers of society elsewhere. It’s that the weeds are not only not cut down, they’re fertilized.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Piotr Berman

      “In short – Israeli society is terribly sick. I wish there was a way to help a disturbed country, the way disturbed people are helped. But there isn’t.”

      It is a start of a long and miserable day form me. Until this morning I thought that the society has the structure of proper American society: everybody in the Middle Class except for a few criminals forming Underclass and The Rich. Now you are telling me that there is also a large Lower Class or Working Class, and, worse and worse, they are not particularly sophisticated.

      You can put on a tribune Ben-Ari and Derfner, and whom they will listen too? However, instead of Defner there was Miri Regev on that tribune. So instead of being called “time bomb” refugees were called “cancer”. Someone explained good people of Hatikva that everything is the fault of the leftists who throw stones at the soldiers and prohibited the Government (which consists of good people) from deporting all refugees and migrants to Sudan — was it Ben-Ari?

      Poor people to such some of their beliefs together with mothers’ milk, but most of it is supplied by the elite. For example, due to philanthropy of Sheldon Adelson, they can get newspapers for free. Unfortunately, Adelson does not care too much for Derner, and it is not because Adelson is a Mizrahi.

      Reply to Comment
    17. “Until this morning I thought that the society has the structure of proper American society: everybody in the Middle Class except for a few criminals forming Underclass and The Rich. Now you are telling me that there is also a large Lower Class or Working Class, and, worse and worse, they are not particularly sophisticated.”

      Reply to Comment
    18. I will not leave with no Tolerance

      Hey tolerance specialists, turn your fixed eyes 200km up to the North and see 11000 killed last year in Syria, where Al-Qaida is fighting with Assad. Who do you prefer?
      Or, Ahmadi spinning his nuke, which will set you free.
      Or your Egyptian brothers with their beloved Google: Global Caliphate.
      Feminists, especially, will find the rest in their harem.
      Don’t focus so much on couple of broken windows of the same car shot from all directions.
      BTW, why dont you post opinions you dont like? BECAUSE OF TOLERANCE

      Reply to Comment
    19. aristeides

      Lot of weeds around here today, and a whole lot of fertilizer.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Elisabeth

      I have a hard time understanding this unnecessary self-flaggelation. As far as I have seen, it is not exactly the people that can be classified as ‘leftist’ (in this tiresome classification game that is so rampant in Israel and America) who excused the mob in Tel-Aviv, and refused to call their behavior racisam.

      So why blame the ‘leftists’ for closing their eyes to blatant racism? They didn’t. It was the so-called ‘rightists’ who excused everything based on the economic and other hardships of the neighborhood.

      And as I pointed out earlier on in another thread: Who are actually most involved, in their voting and social action, in improving the lives of these racists? Not the high-on-nationalism ‘rightists’ settlement builders but the realistic, feet-on-the-ground ‘leftists’.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Freedom of Speech, tzfonim! Do you remember what it is?

      Interesting, did anybody of you, tzfonim, ask yourself, why those African Somalians run to Israel, not to Egypt, where your brothers shoot them like animals, not to Jordan, where your brothers shoot them like animals, not to Syria where syrians shot everyone like animals?

      Reply to Comment
    22. Examinator Ant

      The truth is that there is an abundance of neuro-psycological and behavioural research that helps to explain the mechanisms or HOW/WHY prejudices takes place…. the problem is this same mechanism also applies to the middle classes and the rich. In simple terms we are All prone too and as the saying goes ‘There but for grace go us all’. I speak of our propensity to ‘ birds of a feather stick together’ and sadly violently reject those who aren’t. Be that a football team, tribe area, social/intellectual class, area , city , nation etc.

      Having said that I would point out that there is a big difference between being aware of it and accepting it as ‘normal’ or simply excusing, condemning/punishing or treating it as, in the words of Douglas Adams (“Hitch-hiker’s guide…” fame)that it’s a SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem). It’s a human (our) problem. None of us should kid ourselves that we are above any of this. In truth any prejudice/strong preference we hold is proof that all that differs us from them is the nature of and the threshold to activate it.

      Sociological research has proven the links between the most ‘motivated reasoning’ (starting with a conclusion and cherry pick that which supports it rejecting that which doesn’t) is highly influenced by opportunity and peer pressure to at least match their environment. i.e. if their peers are ignorant and lack opportunity then it is a fair conclusion that the majority will match that “tribal” more not exceed it. Clearly then that ‘tribalism’ needs to replaced not just moved and there we All need to be part of the solution. Social engineering? You bet but what is wrong with raising everyone to a higher standard? To do that we need to provide BOTH the opportunities and the motivation. Failing these nature ( first law of thermodynamics/evolution) will take over and man is both pointless and doomed.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Rehmat

      Racism in Israel has many faces. It could be due to different Jewish backgrounds, 1% vs 99%, Jews vs native Muslim and Christian Palestinians or anyone who doesn’t agree with the religion of Zionism.

      In June 2010 – Nearly 100,000 protesters told Benjamin Netanyahu and its Orthodox parties in the government that parents of European (Ashkenazi) don’t want their ‘White daughters’ to study with Arab (Sephardim) ‘brown girls’ at the girls’ school in the West Bank’s Jewish settlement of Emanuel (perhaps named after Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff).


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    24. Leftists will appreciate that what drives the system is short-term, demonstrable profit, not welfare or even any sane estimate of the prospects of long-term survival. Therefore, such calculation as the one in another article that if money were spent on welfare rather than war, things would be better, are pointless. I can’t help reflecting on the question of why those who could leave, stay, sad though it is to reflect upon. Someone called Sinjim made a telling point on Yuval’s “Heart-Drain Diary” thread, when he said “If they run away, then they’re defaulting and thus abandoning the people from whose suffering they’ve benefitted so much.” Yuval reassured him “As long as I feel that my actions on this soil actually better things, I’ll do my best to cope with the difficulties and stay.” But really, is there any point? You can’t win when you’re playing with marked cards. You might as well throw your hand in and leave. And the same goes for the Palestinians. What is there to stay for? If you can leave, then leave. Let the place rot.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Tzfonim, follow me!

      ISTANBUL – An internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist is to stand trial on charges of insulting Muslim religious values in comments posted , an Istanbul court ruled on Friday.

      Fazil Say has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Berliner Symphoniker, Israel Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France and Tokyo Orchetra and has served as a cultural ambassador to the European Union.

      The 42–old pianist quoted a well-known poem by the 11th Century Persian poet Omar Khayyam that ridiculed the hypocrisy of people who pretend to be pious.

      State-run Anatolian news agency reported that the court “accepted an indictment against Say for allegations of explicitly insulting religious values.” If convicted, the pianist could face 18 months in prison.

      Religious conservatives in mostly Muslim Turkey have become more assertive since Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) swept to power a decade ago, arousing fears among opponents that the republic’s secular traditions are being eroded.

      Khayyam’s poem is in the form of a questions to believers: “You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you? You say two houris await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?”

      In a separate tweet, Say poked fun at a muezzin, someone who makes the Muslim call to prayer.

      “The muezzin finished the evening prayers in 22 seconds … Why are you in such hurry? A lover? A raki table?” he asked, referring to the aniseed-flavored spirit popular in Turkey.

      Say is expected to stand trial in the months in a case that shows how the has turned in Turkey since Erdogan was imprisoned in 1998 for reciting a poem that a court ruled was an incitement to religious hatred.

      Erdogan, the then mayor of Istanbul, had belonged to an Islamist party that had been banned after the military forced its leader to resign as prime minister a year earlier. He served six months in jail. The poem he had read contained the verses; “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”

      Reply to Comment
    26. Hey, United in Hatred


      The obsessive reverence for multiculturalism on the part of universities has also meant that liberal faculty members have come to embrace attitudes that give equal value to very different cultures and nations, a factor that has led – as it did before when the Left embraced the ideology and overlooked the barbaric excesses of Communism – to a dangerous acceptance of radical Islam as equal to and compatible with the culture, values, and ethics of Western democracies.

      In United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror, his examination of the traditional impulse of the Left to align itself with political movements with values foreign and antithetical to those of most Americans, Jamie Glazov saw a direct causal link between an acceptance of defective ideologies by the Left as part of the process by which it rejects democratic Western ideals and a slavish fondness for what he characterizes as the “Left’s sacred cow of multiculturalism.”

      Reply to Comment
    27. sh

      I’m not sure we do excuse the have-nots for racism and violence. Unfortunately they are not unique in their racism, it’s everywhere. (Thinking about it they aren’t exactly unique in their violence either.) They are only unique in suffering the kind of unbearable pressure that produced the ugly scenes that photograph so well.

      One can’t but point out that the government could have avoided inundating “have-not” areas of Tel Aviv with such a deluge of people even more have-not than their veteran inhabitants. That would have meant tackling issues it is not able to deal with without looking even uglier than the have-nots. So they let it ride. Are we really supposed to be *more* critical of the residents of Shapira and Hatikva than we are of the government?

      Reply to Comment
    28. I have a couple of questions.

      1. what is the predominate religion of the refugees? are they some kind of animist or Christian?

      2. are they allowed to work?

      3. Why is this happening now?

      Reply to Comment
    29. Ruth

      AS a sephardi living in North America, I am offended by this post. Larry, you are no slouch in the racism department yourself. This article reeks of it. Awful. Are you aware of how it comes across? Especially since you compare South Tel Aviv to Harlem? How about your so called progressive readers? You think they are not racists? I am thinking of this nasty askenazi here, Danny. What a revolting hater. Always belittling Mizrahim. He calls the inhabitants of Hatikvah animals in the jungle besides they are just arabs really (this is his idee fixe in every post)- Also how come you did not mention the drunk Russians youths who do most of the terrorizing in Hatikvah? They are askhenazim, no?
      Some people are racists and some people are not. What the hell does it have to do with their ethnic origin or their politics?

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    30. Ruth, the “Russians” are a different story, they include Ashkenazim from the northwest ex-SU and people from the Islamic-oriented southern republics – I didn’t want to get into it, it’s a separate post. Lester, the refugees are Muslims and Christians, they used to be allowed to work but they’re not now (tho many of them work illegally, like many Israelis) and the nativist violence is happening now because of a couple of recent brutal rapes in TA, one in which Sudanese were arrested, the other in which Eritreans were arrested. The backlash has been building for over two years – the rapes and heavy news coverage of them just turned it all loose.

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    31. Mitchell Cohen

      @Ruth, your post is spot on. The only thing I would beg to differ on is, in all fairness to Larry, the Russians are a different story (i.e. another column). The rest of your post I FULLY endorse.

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    32. sh

      Me too, Ruth. The racism is stuff we hear most days and, unfortunately, at Friday night dinner whether with family or with friends. They are as present among ashkenazim as they are among sephardim although the terms they are couched in will likely differ according to social conditions. How it got there is matter for speculation. Surely education bears responsibility, but also what they call parshanut, much of which is horribly biased. People we love, people who are in many respects more intelligent than we are come out with hair-raising idle remarks or tropes and generalizations that we end up biting our lips and tongues over in order not to turn the guest or family table into a war zone.

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    33. XYZ

      I will go a step further…the Left/Progressives are always moaning that the “common people don’t understand how they are being manipulated by the Capitalists or Yankee Imperialism” and the such. The belief that most people are stupid or a rabble is a staple belief of the Israeli Left branch of this movement. In the traditional American view of Constitutional goverment, there is an almost religious belief that the will of the people, as expressed in free elections, represent a common wisdom. The politicians, both the winners and losers say “the people have spoken!”. Here, in the world of the Left/Progressives any results that they don’t approve of are dismissed as coming from an “ill-informed, manipulated rabble”. This is as racist as you can get..the belief that the views of anyone other than myself are illegitimate.

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    34. You don’t understand anything at all except the most rudimentary forms of right-wing propaganda, XYZ. Now does my saying that mean that I’m a left-wing elitist, or does it just mean that you are stupid?

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    35. aristeides

      Ruth – you assume that calling the Mizrahim “Arabs” must be an insult. That’s your own racism.

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    36. max

      ARISTEIDES, are you playing dumb in order to be able to spew your ugliness or are you really clueless?

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    37. Susannah

      In thinking about racism throughout the world, throughout history, and in my own experience, I believe that it has always been – and still is – an expression of ignorance.

      Unfortunately, poor and working-class people tend to be less educated, and therefore, more ignorant, than middle class and affluent people.

      I don’t think the tortured explanations are necessary.

      Except to mention that educated people can also be ignorant.

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    38. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      I don’t believe that Ashkenazim in Israel are as bigoted against Arabs as are Mizrahim. Definitely not if you exclude recent Ashkenazi immigrants from the former USSR. All I have is anecdotal evidence, but it’s very strong. Anyone who claims that Askenazim are just as anti-Arab as are Mizrahim, I’m asking them to post some evidence to prove it. And before anyone gets all offended and self-righteous, note that I’m talking about averages, not about every member of a group.

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    39. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      I should have written “anti-African” instead of “anti-Arab” above, but I think what I said is true of both.

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    40. sh

      I was talking about racism in general Aaron and asked people to look around their own dinner tables because racism can be clothed in moderation and respectability, not only in rage. I’m unhappy about distinguishing ashkenazim from sephardim socially now that so many families contain mixes of both and from kubane to the dreaded gefilte fish, the foods of the one have become not only palatable, but increasingly also traditional, for both. Distinctions do exist and are upheld in prayer and traditional customs, but then variations also exist within the religious traditions of each.
      Obviously primary evidence for racism can be found in settler leaders. Most seem to be of ashkenazi origin but I could be wrong. Then there are the so-called specialists in Arab affairs, so many of whom seem to be ashkenazim. These people instruct the rest of us, our historical and political arguments rely on their opinions, which are broadcast, lectured and taught in schools (also to the offspring of Jews from Arab countries although how much this accords with what they hear en famille is a matter for conjecture).
      A Jew who came here from Eastern Europe will tell anyone who dares to express an opinion on that region that they disagree with that they don’t know what they are talking about. Jews from Arab countries do this too. Their views will be savage or nuanced depending on individuals and their experiences but we notice the latter more because Arab countries are relevant to our existence here and our leaders’ national preference is to blacken our surroundings while whitewashing an infinitely blacker Europe and an America that refused shelter to those who fled it.
      There’s the little-noted fact that Ashkenazi Jews fled to Arab countries from Europe between the two World Wars, raised families there, are buried there. Some of their offspring lives here on the fault line between received denominations. There are little anomalies like the designation edot hamizrah, conceived to distinguish Jews from Arab countries from Jews from Europe who are not, by the way, called edot hama’arav in return. In today’s Israel, the term European Jew is freely used – we like to think of ourselves as western – but Arab Jew is not
      There is quiet racism we have to dig around for. I don’t have data to prove that ashkenazim as as racist as sephardim – didn’t look for it either, I confess – but using anecdotal evidence in the same way you do, I see the racism we heard and saw in action in south Tel Aviv as loud, poverty-linked and inexcusable but not specifically sephardi. The people who protested racism against Africans are mostly those who protested the country’s disgraceful treatment of the have-nots who beat them up. Smolanim and therefore traitors. Everyone else sleeps through it all. That’s Israel today.

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    41. Mikesailor

      Curious. Racist beliefs against Jews are deemed ‘antisemitism’ and are condemned by most. Yet, racism against Africans, and the attendant violence, is somehow excused with Jewish Israelis attempting to find justifications for such beliefs. Is one more ‘wrong’ than another? Is this one of the ‘root causes’ of antisemitism? That discrimination or oppression or injustice foisted upon Jews because of ‘who they are’ rather than ‘what they do’ is evil, while the same treatment of non-Jews, for the same ‘reasons’ is acceptable?

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    42. Ofer

      As a young israeli of sephardi descent who also is a leftist I want to take the opportunity to say that I found your article deeply disturbing. Your warped logic and skewded understanding of israeli history is indicative of a person who is clearly so profoundly bigoted that he can’t even recognize the obvious flaws in his reasoning. I am ashamed that we probably have similar voting records. Your article is neither constructive nor does it further a viewpoint that can help make more sephardim sympathetic to the left.

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