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In fact, some Mizrahi are very blunt about the link between Zionism and their plight. But the suspicion and distrust did not end there. Their resemblance to Arabs — in fact, you could argue that they are also "Israeli Arabs" — in everything but religion caused them to be viewed with a mixture of condescension, contempt and even fear.

This kind of culture shock is, at one level, understandable, as it is a myth to expect the simple fact of belonging to a single faith automatically means that people are the same. This anti-Mizrahi prejudice among the Ashkenazi elite European Jews translated into them being whisked away to live in the remotest parts of Israel and populate what are known as "development towns" that failed to develop into anything beyond a receptacle for broken promises and shattered dreams. The Ashkenazi elite also set about "civilising" the Mizrahi Jews and shaping them into modern "Israelis".

Of course, to a certain extent, this happened to all immigrants, but since the Ashkenazi were calling the shots, it was their culture that most influenced the Israeli ideal. Today, mizrahim still make up the bulk of Israel's poor and undereducated; they are often stereotyped in the media as pimps, hustlers and whores; their culture is seen as somewhat inferior; and their accent, although it is the more accurate form of Hebrew, is scorned.

Mizrahi Jews remind Israel of its hidden Other | Middle East Eye

Although the disappeared Jewish presence in Arab lands was not a paradise lost, their migration to Israel was not a paradise found either. Despite certain episodes of oppression, such as the persecution instigated by the fanatical Almohads in North Africa and Spain in the 12th century, Arab Jews were an integral component of the region's cultural, social and economic fabric. This was especially the case in Iraq , which arguably had the world's oldest continuous Jewish presence. Babylonian Jews — who once made up to one in four of Baghdad's population — were significant players in every walk of life, including politics, the arts, music and business.

Pop singer Kobi Peretz released from prison after sentence halved. Mizrahi recording artist convicted of tax evasion walks out of Ramle jail after serving 9 months of month term. Haredi inmates to get prison-issued hats and jackets after minister steps in. Prisons had enforced ban on ultra-Orthodox civilian garb during prayers for fear of jailbreaks; Sephardic chief rabbi, Shas minister had protested move.

Shas minister, chief rabbi protest hat and jacket ban for Haredi prisoners. Prison enforces order for fear of jailbreaks by inmates praying in civilian garb; among those affected is jailed former chief rabbi Metzger.

Racism in Israel

Pop star Kobi Peretz begins prison term for tax evasion. Jailed ex-Ramat Gan mayor asks president for pardon. At the rate that the problem is being addressed today it will take 99 years to close the gap. There are no significant Jewish Ashkenazi voices calling for a fundamental change in power relations. And why should there be?


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We know that few groups in history have ever forfeited privileges willingly. A change in power relations would entail redistribution of land and resources. Those who talk about injustice while using the M word are seen as ingrates and they are told to stop whining. Here a Hebrew verb is used meaning " to cause yourself to cry," "lehitbahyen" suggesting that those Mizrahi Jews who speak about injustice merely prefer to cry about discrimination rather than work hard to succeed in life.

Raising the issue of discrimination may also draw the accusation of undermining the unity of the nation.

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A small group of Mizrahi Jews, referring to themselves as Arab Jews, makes the connection between the Zionist establishment's attitudes towards Mizrahim and its attitudes towards Arabs in general. In the meantime most Mizrahi Jews believe in assimilation and they are demanding to be part of the nation-building story. A small group of Mizrahi scholars work hard to create a Mizrahi language — one that grows out of the Middle East and offers a continuum between modernity and religious life. It could provide the much needed concept of a hybrid identity typical of the Levant, incorporating both East and West.

This language may ultimately be what is needed to build the bridge between Israelis and Palestinians. In Israel's current elections the anger that has surfaced regarding Mizrahi-Ashkenazi relations has taken many Israelis by surprise. It will be interesting to see if and how the turmoil contributes to the development of a much needed Mizrahi language.

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Monday 16 March Tuesday 22 September Mizrahi , Israel elections , Racism , Ashkenazi Jews. How the white tribe works to preserve its power If a group needs heroes, symbols and ceremonies, then it is a good idea to examine one mechanism that gives recognition for outstanding achievements. Is there discrimination or is it all in our imagination? There are no official statistics on the gaps between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews. Mechanisms of denial in the Israeli peace camp GazaUnderAttack. The Africans are at the gates InsideIsrael.


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