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Mizrahi Jews

  • 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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  • Yemenite Children Affair: Families of the kidnapped speak out

    Between the years 1948 and 1952, thousands of babies, children of mostly Yemenite immigrants to the newly-founded State of Israel, were allegedly taken away from their parents and given up for adoption to Ashkenazi families. Now a group of activists is telling the stories of the traumatized families who vow never to forget. (Translated from Hebrew by Maayan Goldman) The baby in the photo is younger than my Abigail. His name is Rafael - a tiny baby, seen here in his mother's arms. She wandered from Damascus to Beirut and onto the shores of the promised land, before being placed…

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  • From Gaza to Salameh: A Palestinian refugee's journey home

    A Palestinian refugee from Gaza journey's to his family's hometown in present-day Tel Aviv. Standing on what used to be the village cemetery, he feels the ghosts of the past as he must reckon with the currently reality. By Eitan Bronstein Aparicio (translated by Charles Kamen) On International Human Rights Day, he took advantage of his basic rights and returned to Salameh, which today is known as Kfar Shalem. It is the first time he has visited the place where his parents were born. His father was born in 1936 and was 12 when he, along with the rest of the…

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  • The trauma and tragedy of Israel's vocational education system

    Across the board, the achievements of vocational school graduates are significantly lower than those of non-vocational high school graduates. What is needed is equality. Nothing more, nothing less. By Yossi Dahan (Translated from Hebrew by Alan Horowitz) Before surrendering to the vision of Stef Wertheimer, Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Education Shay Piron and the vocational education system, which calls for transforming the educational system into an indentured servant of the labor market and the Manufacturers Association of Israel (MAI), consider first some data on the vocational education system in Israel. The latest research on the topic was conducted by Noam…

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  • Ashkenazis, it is time to acknowledge our racism

    The easiest way to avoid being called racist is to only hang out with Ashkenazis. But I hate this, and need to admit that I treat Mizrahis differently. Now all that is left is to start making a change. By Ruth Stern When my friend and poet Shlomi Hatuka asked me to write something about Ashkenazis and Mizrahis, I became a bit worried. How will I write without people seeing my own racism? The surest way to not demonstrate one's racism is by avoiding. If I do not find myself around Mizrahis, black people or Arabs then I won't be racist.…

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  • At the exiled Iranian Parliament in Berlin

    At the exiled Iranian parliament we convened at Café Kotti in Berlin, I look around at my new friends and ask myself: how can civilians destroy the walls the politicians have built with such a lack of imagination, courage, vision and basic human love? It’s not a theoretical question. We’re talking about our lives. By Mati Shemoelof (translated from Hebrew by Chana Morgenstern) During one of my special evenings in Berlin, I climbed over the wall separating Israel and Iran and opened a parliament for Iranian Mashhadi exiles with two other refugees. We sat at Café Kotti (the local Albi)…

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  • Pathologizing ethnicity: Are Mizrahim really more prone to violence?

    A recent article claims that the higher rates of ADHD among Mizrahim leads them to violence. But can one really make such sweeping statements about an entire demographic group without looking at the broader social context? By Marcelo Weksler (translated from Hebrew by Anat Goldman) On March 16, 2014, Dr. Shlomi Antebi, an expert on Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), published an article in Haaretz (Hebrew) with the shocking headline: "The most severe and potentially violent cases of ADHD diagnoses in Israel are of Mizrahim descent." By attributing “Mizrahi violence” to a mental condition, the headline reasserts the popular image…

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  • Farhud, 1941: Iraqi Jews remember a massacre

    On the holiday of Shavuot in 1941, Iraq's Jews experienced a pogrom that claimed over 180 lives and ended in mass looting. But there’s another story from the Farhud that often goes undiscussed: the bravery of Muslims during the crisis. "The Farhud" / Foreword By Orit Bashkin (translated by Asaf Shalev) Silently but not without some noise, a blessed thing is happening in Israel right now. The general category of “Mizrahiness” is falling apart into the stories of specific communities, cities, places, languages and memories: Iraq and Morocco, Aleppo and Oran, Ladino and Aramaic. All of them are asking to tell…

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  • Complicated justice: Must occupation be the litmus test for the Left?

    While many remember Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy, who passed earlier this month, for concluding that there is no occupation of the West Bank, Ofer Sitbon says we must see Levy as an activist judge with a strong sense of justice for the underprivileged. By Ofer Sitbon Everyone had their own Edmund Levy. Since passing away at the age of 72 two weeks ago, the former Supreme Court justice has received myriad obituaries highlighting his extraordinary judicial personality. There were those who longingly emphasized his ruling regarding Israel's disengagement from Gaza, in which he wrote unprecedented political lines in Israel's legal…

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  • Letter of support for the ultra-Orthodox struggle against draft law

    Over 70 Israeli activists publish an open letter in support of the ultra-Orthodox community, as it struggles against a new law that would draft its young men into the army or national civil service. (Translated from Hebrew by Asaf Shalev) We, civilians and activists – religious, masorti (tradition-committed) and secular - wish to express our support for the struggle of the ultra-Orthodox community against forced military enlistment. There must be an end to the empty rhetoric employed by the Israeli government and its constituent parties that are calling for the "sharing of the burden" of military service, by which they…

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  • Reviving the spirit of Yemen's Jewish goldsmiths

    Although goldsmithing among the Jewish community in Yemen goes back generations, most Yemenites were stripped of their ability to continue their work upon their arrival in Israel. The few who remained in the profession watched as their work lost its meaning in Israeli-tzabar culture. By Tom Fogel My family from my mother's side is a family of goldsmiths. It's a bit strange to write that out, since none of the grandchildren bore witness to our family's profession. Like many who came from Yemen, the patriarchs of the family were not allowed to bring their tools to Israel, and the women's…

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