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Mizrahi Jews

  • How David Grossman got drafted into the fight against BDS

    Culture Minister Miri Regev is ramping up her battle against cultural boycotts by enlisting luminaries such as David Grossman. It's time Israeli artists who believe in democracy to stand up and be brave. By Ari Remez The annual Israeli Theater Prize ceremony, held every year in the northern city of Acre, recently took place without a hitch. This, despite the fact that the Jewish Israeli mayor of the city backed a decision to censor a play by Israeli actor Einat Weitzman, and while the Arabic-speaking Al-Midan Theatre in Haifa remains closed. The artistic teams behind the winning works at the ceremony stood on stage alongside Minister of Culture…

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  • New web series spotlights disappeared Yemenite children

    In the years following Israel's establishment, thousands of Yemenite babies, children of new immigrants, were reportedly taken from their parents by the medical establishment and disappeared. Now two filmmakers are working to bring to light the stories of the families who were torn apart. By Tammy Riklis and Yonit Naaman The past half year saw the release of acclaimed Hebrew web series "Neviim: Operation Amram," which takes a closer look at the Yemenite Children's Affair and the families whose children disappeared in the early years of the state. The 12-part series, which was released piecemeal over the past year, follows the activists…

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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…

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  • Israel's education minister wants to reduce Jewish history to pogroms

    A new committee is tasked with exposing Israeli students to Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish history. The problem? There is more than one narrative. By Gil Gertel A committee in Israel's Education Ministry meant to "expose Israeli students to the cultural, philosophical, social, and historical wealth of Jewish communities of the East and Spain" began its work last week. The Bitton Committee, appointed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, is headed by poet and Israel Prize winner Erez Bitton. It is supposed to find ways for integrating content on this topic in the existing school curriculum. So far the plan sounds great. The…

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  • New children's book revives legacy of Jewish-Muslim coexistence

    On the backdrop of rising discrimination and violence against Israel's Arab citizens, a new children's book invokes the spirit of friendship between Arabs and Jews, giving us at least one thing to look forward to in 2016.  By Yoni Mendel (Translated from Hebrew by Ami Asher) A new children's book, "Sweet Tea with Mint And Other Stories" is being released in a climate of increasing discrimination. With the Education Ministry excluding books from its curriculum out of fear of “miscegenation,” at a time of record low of Arabic proficiency among Jews, and with the images of Jews dancing and stabbing photos of Palestinian…

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  • The roots of anti-Mizrahi racism in Israel

    The founders of the state, Jews of Ashkenazi origin raised on European ideas, viewed 'Oriental Jews' as backward and primitive from the moment they began arriving en masse on Israel's shores. "An Ashkenazi gangster, thief, pimp or murderer will not gain the sympathy of the Ashkenazi community (if there is such a thing), nor will he expect it. But in such a primate community as the Moroccans' — such a thing is possible." - David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, 1959 Israel's media was abuzz Monday following the release of an overtly racist commercial targeting Mizrahi Jews. The commercial for the upscale…

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  • The story behind the viral 'apartheid' photo

    Recently, a photograph made waves for its apparent depiction of the disparities in the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian minors. This is what happened to the boys in the photo, with a strange twist involving an Israeli soldier lost in a Palestinian village.  By Avi Blecherman (translated by Hadas Leonov) The following story is going to make your jaw drop, as it demonstrates the absurdity of this place, a reality beyond any imagination — especially if you are a Palestinian. This is a story about a family in Jerusalem who encounters the police three times in the span of a…

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  • Egyptian TV series shines light on the untold story of Arab Jews

    A controversial new television show gives us a glimpse into Jewish-Muslim relations before Israel's establishment, as well as a better understanding of those Jews who left Arab countries only to become Israel's Mizrahim. By Nadia Naser-Najjab A recent controversy over a new Egyptian television series has served to highlight one of the central tensions at the heart of Zionist thought. This controversy has arisen in relation to "Haret al-Yahud" ("The Jewish Quarter"), a love story which depicts a romantic relationship between a male Egyptian-Muslim army officer (Iyad Nassar) and a female Egyptian-Jewish character (Mena Shalaby). The series, which is being broadcast…

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  • We can no longer deny the Holocaust of Libya's Jews

    I wanted to believe that my mother's cries, who for years woke up in the middle of the night, crying in a mix of Arabic and Italian, were not heard by a single writer of Israeli history. By Yossi Sucary I wanted the believe that the Nazis' bullets, which struck the heads of my mother's 12 and 13-year-old cousins with frightening precision, accidentally missed the history books of the State of Israel. I wanted to believe that my grandmother, who was taken from the blazing heat of the Sahara Desert, where she lived as a free and loving woman, on…

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  • Longing for Jewish-Muslim co-existence in Morocco

    Kamal Hachkar's film, 'Echoes From the Mellah,' looks at Morocco's history, which not long ago included Jews and Muslims living together in peaceful co-existence, and serves as an important resource for building a vision of a shared Jewish-Palestinian existence. By Ronit Chacham (translated by Noam Benishei) The January 6 screening of Kamal Hachkar’s "Tinghir-Jerusalem: Echoes From the Mellah," at the opening of Doc Aviv Festival in Yeruham, and the following screening at Ben-Gurion University, were first and foremost an opportunity to broach a subject that is at the heart of our lives: Muslim-Jewish relations. This time, however, it was done through…

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  • What's an Ashkenazi leftist to do?

    One Ashkenazi leftist’s view of the post-election rumblings of class warfare between the "State of Tel Aviv" and the mainly Mizrahi periphery. Last Tuesday’s election saw Likud’s traditional popular base — Mizrahim in the poor, development towns and cities of the Negev and Galilee, and poor neighborhoods and suburbs of the central region — vote for Likud and Netanyahu in very big numbers. This caused a backlash among many Ashkenazi liberals who voted Zionist Union and Meretz. They’re saying they are through caring about the Mizrahi poor; let them go to Bibi from now on. This, in turn, has caused a counter-backlash…

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  • Israeli Black Panther: Mizrahim must boycott the elections

    Since its establishment and until today, not a single election has fundamentally changed the status of Mizrahim in the 'only democracy in the Middle East.' Now we must use the only tool we have left at our disposal and refuse to participate in the game altogether.  By Reuven Abergel For Palestinian citizens of Israel, the upcoming elections represent something new. The establishment of the Joint List is the result of the utter failure of the establishment to divide the rule different Palestinian political currents. In the wake of Avigdor Liberman's racist attacks, the oppressed Palestinian public forced its representatives to unite.…

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  • WATCH: Shas' stunning election ad is a challenge to both Right and Left

    The ultra-Orthodox party, which has drifted far to the right over the past several years, reaches out to the all the Israelis who are not middle-class - which is to say, the majority.  Shas, the party founded by the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and today led by Rabbi Aryeh Deri, is usually seen as the narrowly-sectorial party of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox. Even the kingmaker status it had enjoyed for nearly two decades is usually (and rather haughtily) ascribed by commentators to their ability to march a docile and obedient religious minority to the polling stations, rather than to broad popular…

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