Can Sephardic Jews make aliyah

Mizrachim in Israel: Zionism from the perspective of its Jewish victims

An alternative critical discourse on Israel and Zionism has so far largely focused on the Jewish / Arab conflict. Israel was seen as a constituted state, which is allied with the West against the East and whose foundation is based on the denial of the Orient and the legitimate rights of the Palestinians [1]. I would like to expand the themes of the debate beyond the earlier dichotomies (East versus West, Arabs versus Jews, Palestinians versus Israelis) to address a problem that was left out in earlier formulations of these opposites, namely the Presence of a mediating unit, the Arab or Oriental Jews, the Mizrachim, who predominantly come from Arab or Muslim countries. As I will show, a more detailed analysis must reveal the negative effects of Zionism not only on the Palestinians, but also on the Mizrahim, who now constitute the majority of Israel's Jewish population. Because Zionism not only takes on speaking for Palestine and the Palestinians - and thus "blocks" all Palestinian self-representation, but it also takes the pride of speaking for the Oriental Jews. The Zionist denial of the Arab-Muslim and Palestinian East results in the denial of the Jewish Mizrahim (the "Orientals") who, like the Palestinians, but in a much more subtle way and with less obviously brutal mechanisms, Likewise have been deprived of their right to self-advocacy. Within Israel, and on the world stage, the hegemonic voice of Israel has remained almost unchanged from that of the European Jews, the Ashkenazim, while the voice of the Mizrahim has been largely muffled or silenced.

An immigrant from Bessarabia (now Moldova, Ukraine) buys groceries from Eliahu Abraham, formerly an actor from Baghdad. Ma’abara (refugee camp) in Kiryat Ono, Israel 1951. Photo: GPO

Zionism claims to be a liberation movement for all To be Jews. Zionist ideologues have spared no effort in their efforts to practically equate the two terms "Jewish" and "Zionist". In reality, however, Zionism was primarily a liberation movement for European Jews (and that too, as we know, was problematic) and, more precisely, for the tiny minority of European Jews who actually settled in Israel . Though Zionism claims all To offer Jews a home, this home was not offered to everyone with the same generosity. Mizrahim were initially brought to Israel with certain European Zionist goals. As soon as they were there, they were systematically discriminated against by a Zionism that used its forces and material resources in different ways, consistently for the benefit of the European Jews and to the detriment of the Oriental Jews. In this essay I want to describe the situation of structural oppression as experienced by the Mizrahim in Israel; I will briefly trace the historical origins of this oppression and provide a symptomatic analysis of the historiographical, sociological, political, and journalistic discourses that sublimate, mask, and continue this oppression.

Another problem area, which is related but not identical, will be added to the East / West problematic, namely that of the relationship between the "first" and the "third" world. Even if Israel is not a Third World country according to a simple or general definition, it still has affinities and structural analogies to the Third World, analogies that are often not recognized, even, or precisely, in Israel itself official spokesman to be seen as part of the "Third World"? First, in purely demographic terms, the majority of the Israeli population can be considered third world, or at least third world origin. The Palestinians make up about 20% of the population; the Mizrahim, who only recently came from countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and India, countries that are generally regarded as belonging to the Third World, make up another 50% of the population. Together they make up around 70% of the population that belongs to or comes from the Third World (if you add the West Bank and Gaza, you get almost 90%). European hegemony in Israel is therefore the product of a clearly numerical minority, a minority in whose interests it is both to downplay Israel's "easternity" and its Third World affiliation.

Within Israel, the European Jews form an elite that not only dominates the Palestinians, but also the Oriental Jews. As Jewish members of the Third World, the Mizrahim form a semi-colonized nation within a nation. My present analysis is due to the anti-colonialist discourse in general (Frantz Fanon, Aimé Cesaire) and especially Edward Said's indispensable contribution to this discourse, his genealogical criticism of Orientalism as a discursive embodiment through which European culture in the post-Enlightenment was capable was dealing with the Orient and even producing it. [2]

The orientalist attitude maintains that the Orient is a constellation of certain characteristics, with generalized values ​​being assigned to real or imaginary differences, mostly to the advantage of the West and to the disadvantage of the East, in order to justify the privileges and aggressions of the former. Orientalism tends to preserve what Said calls "flexible positional superiority" which the Westerner places in a number of possible relationships with the Oriental, but without the Westerner losing the relative upper hand. My essay deals with the process by which one pole of the East / West antagonism is produced and reproduced as rational, developed, superior and human, while the other pole is produced and reproduced as abnormal, underdeveloped and inferior, but in this one This case concerns the oriental Jews.

 

The history version of Zionism

The view of the Mizrahim as oppressed Third World members turns directly against the structure of the prevailing discourse within Israel, as it is also spread by the Western media outside Israel. According to this discourse, European Zionism "saved" the Mizrahim from the harsh rule of their Arab conquerors. He took them out of the "primitive circumstances" of poverty and superstition and gently guided them into a modern Western society that is characterized by tolerance, democracy and "human values", values ​​with which they - because of the "Levantine environment" from which they came - were only vaguely and partially familiar. Of course they then suffered from the "gap" in Israel, not only from the gap between their standard of living and that of the European Jews, but also because of the problem of their incomplete integration "into Israeli liberalism and prosperity, hindered as they were by the oriental, illiterate, sexist and generally premodern structures in their countries of origin and also by their tendency to form large families. Fortunately, however, the welfare and educational systems have done everything in their power to "narrow this gap" by introducing the Oriental Jews into the lifestyle of a civilized modern society. Fortunately, mixed marriages are also on the rise, and the Mizrahim have gained appreciation for their "traditional cultural values," for their music, rich cuisine, and warm hospitality. Still, a serious problem remains. Because of their inadequate upbringing and "lack of experience with democracy," the Jews from Africa and Asia tend to be extremely conservative, even reactionary, and religiously fanatical, in contrast to the liberal, secular and educated European Jews . They are anti-socialist and support right-wing parties. Because of their "cruel experiences in Arab countries," they tend to be "haters of Arabs," and in this way represent an "obstacle to peace" and prevent the efforts of the "peace camp," a "sensible deal «To achieve with the Arabs.

Moroccan Jewish immigrants arrive in the port of Haifa. Israel 1954. Photo: GPO

I'll talk about the fundamental insincerity of this discourse in a moment, but first I want to talk about its widespread use, because this discourse is borne by the right and the "left," and it has early and late manifestations as well as religious and secular variants. An ideology has been worked out by the Israeli elite that blames and blames the Mizrahim and their Third World countries of origin, as expressed by politicians, social scientists, teachers, writers and the mass media. This ideology initiates a coherent series of prejudiced discourses that contain clear colonial overtones and overtones. So it is not surprising that the Mizrahim are repeatedly compared by the elites with other "lower" colonized peoples. In 1949, during the mass immigration from Arab and Islamic countries, the journalist Arye Gelblum wrote in an article about the Mizrachim:

“This is the immigration of a race that we have never known before in this country […] We are dealing with people whose primitivities are at their peak, whose level of knowledge is really absolute ignorance, and, worse still, who have no talent for any intellectual understanding. In general their level is hardly better than that of the Arabs, Negroes and Berbers in the same regions. In any case, they have a level that is even lower than what we know from the earlier Arabs here in Eretz Israel. [...] These Jews also lack the flavor in Judaism, since they are completely ruled by wild and primitive instincts. […] As with Africans, you will find gambling, drunkenness and prostitution. Most of them have serious eye, skin and sexually transmitted diseases, not to mention robbery and theft. Chronic laziness and refusal to work, nothing is safe from this anti-social element […] "Aliyat HaNoar" (the official organization entrusted with young immigrants) refuses to accept young Moroccans, and the kibbutzim do not want to hear about one of their admissions . «[3]

Quoting understandingly the friendly advice of a French diplomat and sociologist, the end of the article clarifies the colonial parallel in the Ashkenazim attitude towards the Mizrachim. Based on his comments on the French experience with the African colonies, the diplomat warns:

“They are making exactly the same fatal mistake in Israel that we French made [...] They open their gates too wide to Africans [...] the immigration of a certain type of human material will reduce their value and make a Levantine state out of them, and then will their fate will be sealed. They will decay and perish. «[4]

In order not to think that this discourse is the product of the delirium of an isolated reactionary journalist, one need only quote then Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who saw Mizrachi immigrants as people who lack "the most basic knowledge" and who "lack one Trace of Jewish or human education ”. [5] Ben Gurion has repeatedly expressed his contempt for the culture of Oriental Jews: “We do not want Israelis to become Arabs. We must fight against the spirit of the Levant, which corrupts individuals and societies, and preserve the authentic Jewish values ​​as they have crystallized in the diaspora. «[6] For years, Israeli leaders have had these prejudices, which both the Arabs * inside as well as the oriental Jews included, forced and legitimized. For Abba Eban "the aim should be to instill [the Mizrachim] with an occidental spirit instead of allowing them to drag us into an unnatural orientalism." [7] Or: "One of our great fears is [...] the danger that that if the immigrants of oriental origin take over, Israel will be forced to adapt its cultural level to that of its neighboring countries. "[8] Golda Meir described the Mizrachim, in typical colonialist manner, as coming from another, less developed period Century (for others, a vaguely defined "Middle Ages"): "Will we be able", she asked, "to raise these immigrants to a suitable level of civilization?" The Knesset meeting called "savages" and compared Mizrachim in a disparaging (and enlightening) way with the Africans brought to America as slaves e intellectual abilities and even the Jewishness of the Mizrahim in question. [10] In one with The Glory of Israel (The Glory of Israel), which was published in the Government Yearbook, the Prime Minister complained that “the divine presence has disappeared from the Oriental-Jewish ethnic group,” whereas he praised European Jews for “our people both in quantitative terms like qualitative concepts «. [11] Zionist writings and speeches often pursue the historiographically dubious approach that the Jews from the Orient were somehow “outside history” before their “collection” to Israel. Ironically, this reflects ideas from the 19th century, such as von Hegel, that Jews, like blacks, lived outside the progress of Western civilization. In this respect, European Zionists resemble Fanon's colonial rulers, who always “make history”, whose life is “an epic”, “an odyssey”, while the natives form an “almost inorganic background”.

Also, some of Israel's highly respected intellectuals from the Hebrew University wrote essays on the “ethnic problem” in the early 1950s. "We have," writes Karl Frankenstein, for example, "to recognize the primitive mentality of many immigrants from backward countries." He claims that this mentality can be compared with the "primitive expressiveness of children, those left behind, or the mentally ill." Another scholar, the sociologist Yosef Gross, saw the immigrants "suffer from mental regression and poor ego development." A detailed symposium on the "Sephardic (Mizrachi) problem" was accompanied by a discussion on "the essence of primitivity". The scholars concluded that only a strong infusion of European cultural values ​​would save the Arab Jews from their "backwardness." [12] And in 1964 Kalman Katzelson published his openly racist work The Ashkenazi Revolution (The Ashkenazi Revolution) in which he protested against the dangerous influx of large numbers of Oriental Jews into Israel. He claimed that there was a fundamental and irreversible genetic inferiority of the Mizrahim. He feared that the Ashkenazi "race" would be corrupted by intermarriage and called on the Ashkenazim to protect their interests in the face of the growing Mizrachi majority.

Immigration camp for Jemini immigrants, Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, 1950. Photo: GPO

Such attitudes have not gone away; they are still widespread and are represented by European Jews from a wide variety of political directions. The "liberal" Shulamit Aloni, head of the Citizen’s Right Party (Ratz) and member of the Knesset, condemned Mizrachim in 1983 as "barbaric tribal forces" who "are rounded up like a herd with fanfare" and howl like "a wild tribe". [13] The implied metaphor, which Mizrachim compares with the blacks of Africa, ironically evokes one of the favorite themes of European anti-Semitism, that of the »Black Jews« (In European-Jewish conversations, Mizrachim sometimes refers to »schwartze chajes«, Yiddish for » black animals «). Amnon Dankner, a columnist for the »liberal« daily Haaretz, which is valued by Ashkenazi intellectuals and known for its high journalistic standards, defamed the Mizrahim lifestyles associated with Islamic culture as the western culture »that we here adopt try «, clearly inferior. By portraying himself as a fearful victim of an allegedly official “tolerance”, the journalist laments his forced coexistence with the oriental subhumans: “This war [between the Ashkenazim and the Mizrachim] will not be one between brothers, not because it is not a war but because he will not be between brothers. Because if I will be a partner in this war that is imposed on me, I will refuse to call the other side my 'brother'. These are not my brothers, these are not my sisters, leave me alone, I have no sister […] They put the sticky blanket of the love of Israel over my head and ask me to become aware of the cultural deficits, the authentic ones Feelings of discrimination […] they put me in the same cage with a hysterical baboon and they tell me: 'OK, now you're together, so start the dialogue'. And I have no choice, the baboon is against me, the guard is against me, and the prophets of love of Israel stand by my side and wink at me with a wise eye and say, 'Talk nicely to him. Throw him a banana. After all, you are brothers ‹[…]« [14]. Again we are reminded of Fanon's colonial rulers, unable to speak of the colonized without resorting to the bestiary, the colonial ruler whose terms are zoological.

The racist discourse regarding Oriental Jews is not always that exaggerated or extreme; elsewhere it is more "humane" or "benevolent". For example, read Dr. Dvora and Rabbi Hacohens One People, The Story of the Eastern Jews, a "loving" text permeated with Eurocentric prejudices. [15] In his introduction, Abba Eban speaks about the "exotic quality" of Jewish communities on the "outer edges of the Jewish world". The text itself and the photographs convey a clear ideology. "Traditional costumes", "enchanting folk tunes", "pre-modern handicrafts", shoemakers and coppersmiths, women "on primitive looms" are emphasized. We learn that “there is a shortage of school books in Yemen” and the photographs show only sacred scriptures such as the Ketubba (Jewish marriage contract) or Torah scrolls, never secular scriptures. We are repeatedly reminded that some North African Jews have inhabited caves (intellectuals like Albert Memmi and Jacques Derrida evidently escaped these living conditions), and an entire chapter is devoted to these "Jewish cave dwellers".

The current historical documents, however, show that the oriental Jews were predominantly urban. Of course, there is no merit in itself for being urban, or a mistake in itself to live in "cave-like shelters." What strikes the commentator is a kind of "longing for the primitive", a paucity that feels compelled to draw the Mizrahim free of any technology and modernity. The images of "oriental" misery are then juxtaposed with the shiny faces of the "Orientals" in Israel as they learn to read and master the modern technology of tractors and combine harvesters. The book is part of another national export industry for mizrachi "folklore," an industry that sells (often expropriated) goods - clothes, jewelry, liturgical objects, books, photos, and films - to Western Jewish institutions keen on Jewish exotic items. The Israeli Ashkenazi is polishing up the mystery of the Eastern Jews for the West - a pattern that we know from academic studies. Ora Gloria Jacob-Arzooni describes for example in The Israeli Film: Social and Cultural Influences 1912-1973 Israel's "exotic" Mizrachi community as one that is plagued by "almost unknown tropical diseases" - the geography here is a bit adventurous - and that is "really destitute". The North African Jews, we are taught, and in a language that has amazed so long after the end of the Third Reich, were hardly "racially pure" and one finds "witchcraft and other superstitions that are far removed from it Jewish law «. [16] We are reminded of Fanon's ironic listing of the colonial description of the natives: "Indolent creatures, shaken by fever, obsessed with old manners."

 

The robbery of history

A key feature of colonialism is the distortion and even denial of the history of the colonized. The projection that the Mizrahim come from backward rural communities that have had no contact with technological civilization is, at best, a simplistic caricature and, at worst, a complete misinterpretation. Metropolises like Alexandria, Baghdad and Istanbul were hardly bleak and backward nests without electricity or automobiles at the time of Mizrachi immigration, as the official Zionist account implies, nor were these countries miraculously cut off from the universal dynamics of historical processes. Yet mizrahim and Palestinian children in Israeli schools are doomed to study world history that only highlights the achievements of the West while obliterating the civilizations of the East. The political dynamics of the Middle East, on the other hand, are only presented in relation to the fertilizing influences of Zionism on the previously existing desert. Main Zionist historiography leaves little room for Palestinians and Mizrahim. But while the Palestinians have a clear counter-historiography, the history of the Mizrachim is fragmented, integrated into the history of both groups. Distinguishing between the "bad" East (the Muslim Arab) and the "good" East (the Jewish Arab), Israel has taken on the task of purifying the Mizrahim of their Arabness and of their original sin of belonging to the Orient to redeem. Israeli historiography absorbs the Jews of Asia and Africa in the monolithic official memory of European Jews. Mizrachi students really learn nothing of value about their own history as Jews in the Orient. Many Senegalese and Vietnamese children have learned that their "ancestors, the Gauls, had blue eyes and blonde hair." Mizrachi children receive the historical memory of "our ancestors, the inhabitants of the shtetl [17] in Poland and Russia", as well as the pride of the Zionist founding fathers for building pioneer settlements and outposts in the wilderness. Jewish history is conceived as a European one, and the concealment of Mizrachim in historical texts is a fine way of hiding the unpleasant presence of an oriental "other" and subordinating it to a European-Jewish "we".

“Operation Flying Carpet”, transport of around 49,000 Yemeni Jews to Israel, 1949. Photo: GPO

From the perspective of official Zionism, Jews from Arab and Muslim countries only appear on the world stage when they are seen on the map of the Hebrew state, just like the modern history of Palestine officially only with the Zionist renewal of the biblical mandate begins. It is assumed that modern Mizrachi history begins with the arrival of the Mizrachi in Israel or, more precisely, with the "Magic Carpet" or "Ali Baba" operations (the latter refers to the transfer of Iraqi Jews to Israel in the Years 1950 and 1951, the former on the Yemeni Jews 1949-1950). The names themselves, borrowed from the Arabian Nights, evoke orientalist attitudes that emphasize the naive religiosity and technological backwardness of the Mizrahim, for whom modern airplanes were "magic carpets" that brought them to the Promised Land. The Zionist glamor on the Exodus allegory has endeavored "Egyptian" slavery (where Egypt stands for all Arab countries) and the salutary death of the (Mizrachim) "desert generation". European Zionism has taken on the role of the patriarch in the Jewish oral tradition, in which the fathers pass on the experiences of their people to their sons ("we-igad'ta le-bincha ba-jom ha'hu ...") ["And one day you will tell your children ... «]. And the stories of the Zionist father drown out the stories of the Mizrachi father, who have thus become inaccessible to his sons.

Filtered through a Eurocentric grid, Zionism portrays culture as the monopoly of the West, thus robbing the peoples of Asia and Africa, including the Jewish peoples, of their cultural expression. Accordingly, the rich history of Jews from Arab and Muslim countries is hardly studied in Israeli schools and academic institutions. (While Yiddish is praised and promoted, Ladino and other Sephardic and Mizrachi dialects are disregarded - "Those who do not speak Yiddish," Golda Meir once said, "are not Jews." - Yiddish, for the Mizrachim a language of the oppressor, thus, through an ironic twist of history, became a language code associated with privileges.) [18] While the works of Scholem Alejchem, YD Berkowitz, Mendele Moicher Sforim, the works of Anwar Shaul, Murad Michael, and Salim Darwish are ignored, and when Mizrachi characters are discussed, their Arabic character is downplayed. Maimonides, Jehuda ha-Levi and Ibn Gabirol are seen as the product of a Jewish tradition taken out of context, or rather associated with Spain, ie Europe, than with a "Judeo-Islamic symbiosis", the existence of which even the Orientalist Bernard Lewis recognizes . Everything conspires to cultivate the impression that Mizrachi culture was static and passive before Zionism and, like the wasteland of Palestine, waited to be fertilized by European dynamism. Even if the Zionist historiography presents the history of the Mizrahim in a pathologically selective way as a progression from pogrom to pogrom (often centuries apart), and thus paints a picture of incessant oppression and humiliation, the Mizrahim are actually and on the whole quite comfortable in lived in Arab-Muslim society. The history of the Mizrachim simply cannot be discussed in European-Jewish terminology; even the word "pogrom" has its origins in European-Jewish experiences and reflects their peculiarities. At the same time, we shouldn't idealize the Jewish-Muslim relationship as idyllic. It is true that Zionist propaganda exaggerated the negative aspects of the Jewish situation in Muslim countries and that the situation of these Jews for 15 centuries was undoubtedly better than in Christian countries. But it remains a fact that the status as dhimmi, which was applied to both Jews and Christians, as "tolerated" and "protected" minorities, is in itself an inequality. But this fact, as Maxime Rodinson points out, could very well be explained by the sociological and historical circumstances of the time, and it was not the product of a pathological anti-Semitism of European characteristics. [19] The Mizrahim, while maintaining a strong collective identity, were generally well integrated and indigenous to their countries of origin, and were an inseparable part of their social and cultural life. Arabized through and through in their traditions, the Iraqi Jews, for example, used Arabic themselves in their hymns of praise and religious ceremonies. The liberal and secular currents of the 20th century even created a stronger connection between Iraqi Jews and Arab culture, which enabled Jews to occupy a prominent place in public and cultural life. Jewish writers, poets and scholars played a vital role in Arabic culture, for example by translating books from other languages ​​into Arabic. Jews excelled in Iraqi-speaking theater, in music, as singers, composers and interpreters on traditional instruments. In Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Tunisia, Jews became members of the legislature, city councils, the judiciary, and they also held high economic positions; Ishak Sasson was Treasury Secretary of Iraq in the 1940s, and James Sanua of Egypt - ironically higher positions than those held by Mizrahim within the Jewish state.

Party party of a Jewish family in Baghdad. Around 1950.

 

The Lure of Zion

Zionist historiography depicts the emigration of Arab Jews as the result of a long history of anti-Semitism and religious devotion, while Zionist activists from the Arab-Jewish communities emphasize the importance of Zionist-ideological engagement as a motive for the exodus. Both versions disregard fundamental elements: the Zionist economic interest in bringing Mizrachim to Palestine / Israel, the financial interest of some Arab regimes in their departure, historical developments in the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the fundamental connection between the fate of the Arab Jews / Jews and the Palestinians. Arab historians, such as Abbas Shiblack in The Lure of Zion point out, have also underestimated the extent to which the policies of the Arab governments of encouraging Jews to leave have done the opposite and ironically served the Zionist cause, thereby harming both Arab Jews and Palestinians. [20] It is important to remember that Mizrahim, who had lived in the Middle East and North Africa for millennia (often before the Arab conquest), simply had no interest in settling in Palestine. They had to be "lured" into Zion. Despite the messianic mysticism of the land of Zion, which was an integral part of the Mizrahim religious culture, they did not share the European Jewish desire to "end the diaspora" by creating an independent state governed by a new archetype of a Jew would populate. Oriental Jews were always in contact with the "Promised Land", but this contact was a "natural" part of a general circulation within the countries of the Ottoman Empire. Until the 1930s, it was not uncommon for Mizrachim to go on purely religious pilgrimages or business trips to Palestine, sometimes with the help of Jewish transport companies. (Even if the countries of origin of the Mizrahim were viewed as "remote and isolated" on the Zionist map, they were in reality closer to Eretz Israel than Poland, Russia and Germany.)

Jewish wedding in Aleppo, Syria 1914.

Before the Holocaust and the founding of Israel, Zionism was a minority movement within Jewish communities around the world. The majority of the Mizrahim were rather indifferent to the Zionist project, at times even hostile. For example, the Iraqi Jewish leadership has worked with the Iraqi government to stop Zionist activities in Iraq; The chief rabbi in Iraq even published an "Open Letter" in 1929 in which he condemned Zionism and the Balfour Declaration. [21] In Palestine, some local leaders of the (oriental) Jewish community have formally protested against the Zionist plans. In 1920 they signed an anti-Zionist petition written by Palestinian Arabs, and in 1923 some Palestinian Jews met in a synagogue to denounce Ashkenazi Zionist rule.Some even cheered the Muslim-Christian committee and its leader, Mussa Chasam al-Chuseini. However, the National Jewish Committee was able to prevent newspaper reports on this event. [22] During this period, Zionism created massive ideological dilemmas for all Palestinian - Jewish, Muslim and Christian - communities. The Arab national movement in Palestine and Syria in the early phases carefully distinguished between Zionist immigrants and local Jewish residents (mostly Mizrahim), "who live peacefully among the Arabs." [23] The first petition protesting against Zionism, drawn up by the Jerusalem Arabs in November 1918, demanded: “We want […] to live on an equal footing with our Israelite brothers, long-time residents of this country; their rights are our rights, and their duties are our duties. «[24] The All-Syrian Convention of July 1919, in which a representative of the Mizrahim also took part, even claimed that all Arab Syrians, Muslims, and Christians to represent Jews. The manifesto of the first Palestinian convention in February 1919 also insisted on the "local Jewish / Zionist" distinction, and even in March 1920, during massive demonstrations against the Balfour Declaration, a petition from the Nazareth area only opposed Zionist immigration , and not against the Jews in general. "The Jews are from our country, they lived here with us before the occupation, they are our brothers, people of our country, and all Jews in the world are our brothers." [25] At the same time, there were deep conflicting feelings and fears both at Arab Jews as well as Arab Muslims and Christians. While some Muslim and Christian Arabs strictly upheld the “Zionist / Jewish” distinction, others were less vigilant. In Nazareth, the Anglican priest made theological arguments against "the Jews" in general, and the Arab mob did not distinguish, in either 1920 or 1929, between Zionist aims as such and the traditional communities that were not involved in the Zionist project. [26] Zionism thus created a painful dichotomy in the previously peaceful relations between the two communities. The Mizrahim were driven to choose between anti-Zionist "being Arab" and pro-Zionist "being Jewish". For the first time in the history of Oriental Jews, "being Arab" and "being Jewish" were used as opposites. The situation led the Palestinian Arabs to see all Jews as at least potential Zionists. Under the pressure of the waves of Ashkenazi-Zionist immigration and the increasing influence of their institutions, the distinction between "Jewish / Zionist" became more and more precarious, especially to the advantage of European Zionism. Had the Arab national movement maintained this distinction, there would have been considerable chances of gaining Mizrahim support for the anti-Zionist cause - as even the Zionist historian Yehoshua Porat has recognized. Outside of Palestine, it was not an easy task for Zionism to uproot the Arab-Jewish communities. In Iraq, for example, most Arab Jews were not Zionist, and they refused to emigrate even after the state of Israel was declared, despite the Balfour Declaration of 1917, despite the tensions caused by the Palestinian / Zionist clashes in Palestine despite Zionist propaganda under Mizrachim in the Arab-Muslim countries, despite the historically atypical attacks on Iraqi Jews in 1941 (attacks that were inextricably linked to the geopolitical conflicts of that time). Even after the founding of the state, the Jewish community in Iraq set up new schools and started businesses to remain a clear sign of serious intent. When the Iraqi government announced in 1950 that any Jew who wanted to leave was free to do so - subject to the obligation to give up citizenship and property - and set a time limit for leaving the country, few families applied for exit permits. Since the carrot wasn't enough, the stick was necessary. A Jewish underground cell, commanded by secret agents sent from Israel, planted bombs in Jewish centers to create hysteria among Iraqi Jews and thus accelerate mass emigration to Israel. [27] In one case, on January 14, 1951, a bomb was thrown in the courtyard of the Mas’uda Shemtov Synagogue in Baghdad at a time when hundreds were gathered there. [28] Four people, including a twelve-year-old boy, were killed and about 20 were wounded. These actions appear to have been the product of a collusion between two groups - Israeli Zionists (including a small group of Iraqi Zionists) and groups within the Iraqi government (mainly around Britain-oriented ruler Nuri Said) supported by the international, Zionist- directed denunciation campaign and who had a direct financial interest in the expulsion of Iraqi Jews. Wedged in the vise of Iraqi government work and Zionist cooperation, the Mizrachi community panicked and was genuinely forced to leave. What its proponents themselves called "cruel Zionism" - the idea that the Zionists had to use violent means to free the Jews from exile - had achieved its goals.

Renee Dangoor, Miss Baghdad 1947. Photo from the film “Remember Baghdad”.

The process that has deprived the Palestinians of their property, land and political rights was linked to the process that the Mizrahim of their property, their land and their roots in the Arab countries (and, in Israel itself, their history and their culture). This all-encompassing process was cynically idealized in Israel's diplomatic pronouncements as a kind of "spontaneous population exchange" and used as a justification for the expulsion of the Palestinians. But this symmetry is fictional, because the so-called "return from exile" of the Arab Jews was far from spontaneous and in no way can it be equated with the situation of the Palestinians exiled from their homeland and who want to return there. In Israel itself, when the Palestinians were forced to leave, the Mizrahim suffered additional trauma, a kind of reverse image of the Palestinian experience. The vulnerable new immigrants were ordered around by arrogant officials who they called "human dust"; they were huddled together in Ma’aborot (Transitional camps), which were hastily assembled from corrugated iron. Many were stripped of their "unpronounceable" Arabic, Persian, and Turkish names and given "Jewish" names by God-like Israeli bureaucrats. This is where the process began, with which millennia-old pride and collective self-confidence and creativity were destroyed. This was a kind of Mizrachi "Middle Passage" [29] in which the apparently voluntary "return from exile" masked a subtle series of compulsions. But while the Palestinians were allowed to cultivate a collective fighting spirit out of the nostalgia of exile (be it with an Israeli, Syrian, Kuwaiti passport or on the basis of a laissez-passer), Mizrachim were forced by their hopeless situation to suppress their communal nostalgia. The ubiquitous notion of "one people" united in the ancient homeland prohibits any positive memory of a life before the State of Israel.

 

"Hebrew Work" Myth and Reality

The Zionist "collecting from all four corners of the earth" was never the charitable enterprise that it is portrayed as in the official discourse. From the early days of Zionism, mizrahim were viewed as a source of cheap labor that needed to be induced to emigrate to Palestine. The economic structure that suppresses Mizrahim in Israel was established in the early days of the Yishuv (the pre-state Zionist settlement in Palestine). The pioneering principles of leading socialist Zionism included, for example, the double terms Avoda iwrit (Hebrew work) and A.Woda atsemit (own work), which meant that a person and a community should live from their own work and not from someone else's work, an idea whose roots go back to the Haskala or the Hebrew Enlightenment of the 18th century. Many Jewish thinkers, writers, and poets such as Mapu, Brenner, Borochov, Gordon, and Katzenelson emphasized the need to transform Jews through "productive work," especially agricultural work. Such thinkers called for Avoda iwrit as a necessary requirement for Jewish recovery. The policy and practice of Avoda iwrit has the historically positive self-image of the Hebrew pioneers and later of the Israelis as a non-colonial enterprise which, unlike colonial Europe, did not exploit the "natives" and which was therefore viewed as morally higher in its claims , strongly influenced.

Jewish demonstrators are calling for Jewish workers to be hired. Orange plantation in Kfar Saba, 1927. Photo: GPO

In its current historical implementation, Avoda iwrit had tragic effects and generated political tensions not only between Arabs and Jews, but also between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim and also between Mizrahim and Palestinians. First, the European Jewish settlers tried to compete with Arabs for work with previously resident Jewish employers; "Hebrew labor" thus in reality meant the boycott of Arab labor. The demands of the immigrants for relatively high wages then nevertheless excluded their employment and consequently led to large-scale emigration. At a time when even the poorest Russian Jews were making their way to North and South America, it was difficult to convince European Jews to come to Palestine. Only after the failure of the Ashkenazi immigration did Zionist institutions decide to bring Mizrahim into the country. Ya’akov Tehon from Eretz Israel Office In 1908 wrote "Hebrew workers" about this problem. After a detailed description of the economic and psychological obstacles to the goal Avoda iwrit and of the dangers inherent in the massive employment of Arabs, he, along with other official Zionists, proposes the importation of mizrahim to replace the Arab workers in agriculture ”. Since "it is doubtful whether the Ashkenazi Jews are suitable for a job other than that in the city," he argues, "there is a place for the Jews of the Orient, especially for the Yemenis and Persians, in the area of ​​the Agriculture". "Like the Arabs," continues Tehon, "they are satisfied with little" and "in this sense they can compete with them". [30] Shmuel Yavne argues similarly in his two-part article entitled The Rebirth of Labor and the Jews of the Orient, published in 1910 in the HaPo'el HaTsa'ir (The Young Worker, the official organ of the Zionist Workers 'Party in Eretz Israel, later part of the Workers' Party) «, In which he pleads for an oriental Jewish solution to the» problem «of the Arab workers. The HaTswi newspaper expressed this increasingly widespread attitude as follows: “This is the simple, natural worker who is able to do any kind of work, without feeling of shame, without philosophy and also without poetry. And of course Herr Marx is neither in his pocket nor in his mind. I am not suggesting that the Yemeni element should persist in its current state, in its barbaric, savage present state [...] the Yemenite of today is on the same backward level as the Fellahs [...] they can take the place of the Arabs. " [31]

Zionist historians have reused these colonialist myths and applied them to both Arabs and Arab Jews to justify the class to which the mizrahim were assigned. Yemeni workers were portrayed as "only workers", as socially "primeval matter", while Ashkenazi workers were portrayed as "creative" and "idealistic, able to surrender to an ideal, to create new forms and a new purpose in life." 32]

Regarded by the European Zionists as capable of competing with the Arabs, but resistant to higher socialist and nationalist ideals, they seemed Mizrachim ideal imported labor. So it came about that the concept of "born worker with minimal needs" used by figures like Ben Gurion and Arthur Rupin played an important ideological role, a concept that was subliminally linked to skin color; to quote Rupin: "In them [Yemeni Jews] there is a hint of Arab blood, and they are very dark in color." [33] The Mizrahim also had the added advantage of being generally Ottoman subjects, and thus they could , unlike most Ashkenazim, entered the country without legal difficulties, which was partly due to the Jewish (Mizrachi) representation in the Ottoman parliament. [34] Seduced by the idea of ​​“recruiting Jews in the form of Arabs”, Zionist strategists agreed on the “Mizrachi option”. The sheer economic-political interest that stood behind this selective "collecting" is clearly evident in the letter from the ambassador Yavn'eli, which he wrote from Yemen and in which he states his intention, only for the "young and healthy people" select immigration. [35] His reports on potential Yemeni workers go into detail on the physical characteristics of the various Yemeni regional groups, in which he describes, for example, the Jews of Dal'a as "healthy" with "strong legs", in contrast to the Jews Jews of Ka'taba with their "sunken faces and wrinkled hands". [36] This policy of quasi-eugenic selection was repeated in Morocco in the 1950s, where young men were selected for alija on the basis of physical and gymnastic tests [37].

By frequently deceiving the Mizrahim about the "realities in the land where milk and honey flow", Zionist missionaries managed the immigration of over 10,000 Mizrahim (mostly Yemenis) before the First World War. They were mainly used as agricultural day laborers under extremely harsh conditions to which, despite Zionist mythology, they were clearly not used. Yemeni families were crammed together in stables, in pastures, in windowless cellars - for which they had to pay - or they simply had to live in the fields. Unsanitary conditions and malnutrition caused widespread illness and death, especially among children. The employers of Zionist Association (Zionist Association) and the Ashkenazi landowners and their supervisors brutally treated the Yemeni Jews, sometimes they also abused the women and children who worked 10 hours or more a day. [38] The ethnic division of labor at this early stage of Zionism also resulted in a gender division of labor. In 1907 Tehon wrote about the advantages of having Yemeni families permanently living in the settlements: «... then (we can) women and girls instead of the Arab women who now work for high wages as servants in almost every settler family let the households do the work. ”[39] In fact, the women and girls who were“ lucky ”could work as maids, the others stayed in the fields. Economic and political exploitation went hand in hand with the usual European feeling of superiority. Any treatment of the Mizrahim was considered legitimate as it was believed to be devoid of any culture, history or material benefits. Mizrachim were also exempted from the social benefits that European workers received. [40] Worker Zionism prevented, through the Histadrut, the Yemenis from owning land or joining cooperatives, and thus limited them to being wage earners.As the example of the Arab workers makes clear, the dominant socialist “ideology within Zionism contained no guarantee against Eurocentrism. Just as Palestine was portrayed as an empty land that had to be transformed through Jewish labor, so the founding fathers portrayed the Mizrahim as passive vessels that had to be formed by Promethean Zionism.

At the same time, the European Zionists were not at all enthusiastic about the idea that the settlements in Palestine would be "polluted" by a gift from Mizrahim. It was precisely this idea that was rejected at the first Zionist Congress. [41] In their texts and at their congresses, the European Zionists have consistently directed their remarks to the Ashkenazi Jews and to the colonial powers, who would possibly give support for the national homeland; the visionary dreams of a Zionist Jewish state were not intended for the Mizrahim. But the actual realization of the Zionist project in Palestine, with its accompanying aggressive stance against all the peoples resident there, brought with it the possibility of exploiting the Mizrahim as part of an economic and political basis. The strategy of promoting a Jewish majority in Palestine in order to create a Jewish national homeland involved first the acquisition and later the expropriation of Arab land. This policy of carrying out a de facto Jewish occupation of the Arab country was one of the fundamental elements of the Zionist claim in Palestine and was particularly favored by the Zionut Ma’asit ("Practical Zionism"). Some Zionists feared that Arab workers on Jewish land might one day declare that “the land belongs to those who work it - hence the need for Jewish workers. This distorted version of Avoda iwrit created long-term competition between Arab workers and the main group of Jewish workers (mizrachim), which has now been reduced to the status of a sub-proletariat.

Unemployed workers from Dimona, a “developing city” in the Negev, demonstrate in front of the Knesset. (The sign says: “Are we third class citizens?”) 1988

Only after the failure of European immigration - even in the post-Holocaust era, most European Jews preferred to emigrate to other countries - the Zionist establishment decided to bring Mizrachi immigrants into the country in large numbers. The European-Zionist rescue fantasies with regard to the Jews of the Orient meant, in sum, the need to oneself to save from a possible economic and political collapse. Likewise, in the 1950s Zionist officials continued to show an ambivalence about the "mass importation" of mizrahim. But again the demographic and economic necessities - to colonize the country with Jews, to secure the borders, to have workers to work and soldiers to fight - put pressure on the European Zionists. With this in mind, it is instructive to read the sanitized versions issued by those who were themselves directly involved in the exploitation of the Mizrachi labor. Yavne’eli's famous Schlichut (Zionist embassy that campaigned for the Aliyah) in Yemen has always been idealized in Zionist texts, for example. The gap between the internal and the more public discourse is particularly striking in the case of Yavne'eli himself, whose letters to the Zionist institutions always emphasize the search for cheap labor, but who in his memoirs describes his activities in a quasi-religious language, as bringing "the news of the land of Israel, the good news of rebirth, of the land and of work to our brothers Bnei-Israel (sons of Israel), far away in the land of Yemen". [42]

 

The dialectic of dependence

These problems, which already existed in embryonic form in the pre-state era, came to their bitter "fulfillment" after the establishment of Israel, but now they have been explained with a wiser package of rationality and idealization. Israel's rapid economic development in the 1950s and 1960s was achieved on the basis of a systematically unequal distribution of benefits. The socio-economic structure was built in contradiction to the egalitarian myths that characterized Israel's self-portrayal until the last decade. The discriminatory decisions of the official Israeli authorities regarding the Mizrahim began even before their arrival in Israel, and they were made deliberately on the assumption that the Ashkenazim, as the self-declared "salt of the earth", deserved better conditions and special privileges. [43]

Unlike Ashkenazi immigrants, the Mizrahim were treated inhumanely in the camps that were set up by the Zionists in their countries of origin and also during transit. A report by the Jewish Agency on a camp in Algiers speaks of a situation in which "more than 50 people lived in a room four or five square meters" [sic!]. [44] A doctor who worked in a transit camp for North African Jewish immigrants in Marseille noted that children had died as a result of poor housing and a recent food decline, and added, “I (can't) understand… why in all of them European countries, the immigrants are supplied with clothing, while the North African immigrants are supplied with nothing. «[45] As information about the discrimination against the Mizrahim flowed back to North Africa in Israel, the number of immigrants decreased. Some left the transit camps to return to Morocco, while others, to quote an envoy from the Jewish Agency, had to be "brought onto the ship by force". [46] In Yemen, the desert journey, made worse by the inhuman conditions in the Zionist transit camps, ended in hunger, disease and, for many, in death, which ultimately amounted to a brutal kind of "natural selection." Concerned about the burden of caring for sick Yemenis, the Jewish Agency staff was assured by their colleague Yitzchak Rafa'el (National Religious Party) that “there is no cause for concern that a large number of chronically ill people are present because they have to walk for about two weeks. The seriously ill will not be able to walk. «[47]

Nurses and Jeminite mothers with their children in Ma’abara Rosh Ha’ayin 1949. Photo: GPO

The European-Jewish contempt for the Eastern Jewish life and feelings - at times the Mizrahim was assumed by Ashkenazi "experts" that death was "something everyday and natural" for Mizrahim - was just as evident as the notorious cases of the "kidnapped children of the Yemen «. [48] Traumatized by the reality of life in Israel, some Mizrahim, most of them Yemenis, were the prey of a ring of unscrupulous doctors, nurses and social workers who gave up about 600 Yemeni babies for adoption by childless Ashkenazi couples (some of them lived outside Israel) and the birth parents said the children had died. The conspiracy went so far that forged death certificates were systematically issued for the adopted children, and it was ensured that for several decades the demands of the Mizrahim for investigation were silenced and manipulated by government agencies. [49] On June 30, 1986, that organized Public Committee for the Discovering of the Missing Yemenite Children a large protest demonstration. The demonstration, like many other protests and demonstrations by the Mizrahim, was almost completely ignored by the media. A few months later, Israeli television produced a documentary on the subject that blamed the bureaucratic chaos of that period for unfortunate "rumors" and perpetuated the myth that Mizrachi parents were ill-caring educators with little responsibility towards their own children.

Ethnic discrimination against Mizrahim began immediately with their settlement. From the moment they arrived in Israel, the various Mizrachi communities were scattered across the country, despite their express will to stay together. Families have been separated, old communities torn apart, and traditional leaders torn from their positions. Oriental Jews were for the most part settled in ma'abarot (transitional camps), in remote villages, agricultural settlements and in urban areas, some of which had only recently been evacuated by Palestinians. When these absorption shelters were exhausted, the settlement authorities created "Ajarot Pituach" ("developing cities"), mostly in rural and border areas, which, predictably, became targets of Arab attacks. It was declared policy to "strengthen the borders" not only against Arab military attacks, but also against any attempts by Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Although Israeli propaganda praised the better-protected Ashkenazi kibbutzim for their courage to live on the borders, in fact, due to their small number (about three percent of the Jewish population, and just half of that if you only look at the border settlements), they were hardly any suitable for securing long borders, while the settlements of the far more numerous Mizrahim on the borders ensured a certain security. However, the Mizrachi border settlements lacked the strong infrastructure of military protection provided to the Ashkenazi settlements, and Mizrachim sometimes paid with their lives for this. The ethnic segregation that characterizes Israeli housing conditions also dates from this period. While Ashkenazim tend to live in the more affluent northern areas, Mizrahim are concentrated in the less affluent southern areas. In spite of this quasi-segregation, the two communities are fundamentally linked in a dependency relationship, with the poor residential areas serving the privileged areas - a relationship that reflects that between the "socialist" kibbutzim and the neighboring developing cities.

In the cases in which Mizrachim moved into existing dwellings - and in Israel "existing dwellings" mean "Palestinian dwellings" - this often resulted in chaotic living conditions for the Mizrachim, as the Israeli authorities, in their orientalist attitude, considered it normal many Mizrachi families crowded together in the same house, assuming they are "used" to such conditions. These poor Mizrachi neighborhoods were also systematically disadvantaged in terms of infrastructural requirements, educational and cultural advantages and political self-representation. Later, when some of these neighborhoods got in the way of urban gentrification (the process of replacing a low-status population with a higher-status population in one residential area, i.e. translator), the Mizrahim were forced into others against their will and despite violent protests - "modern" - poor residential areas to move. In Jaffa, for example, after the Mizrachi moved away, the authorities renovated the houses they had refused to renovate for their Mizrachi residents, thus making it possible to transform parts of oriental Jaffa into a touristy "artists' quarter" with art galleries. Recently, the Mizrachi neighborhood of Musrara in Jerusalem has seen a similar development. Now that the neighborhood is no longer on the pre-1967 border, authorities have attempted to evacuate the Mizrachi residents and relocate them to settlements in the West Bank, again on the pretext of improving their material circumstances. The pattern is clear and systematic. The areas from which the Mizrahim were expelled soon became the target of major investments, which in turn led to an influx of Ashkenazim. Since then, the elite have enjoyed living in a "Mediterranean" ambience, but without the inconvenience of the presence of Palestinians or Mizrahim. The new Mizrachi neighborhoods, on the other hand, became impoverished slums.

Bahausungen in Yerucham, Negev Israel 1968. Photo: GPO

As cheap, mobile and manipulable workers, the Mizrahim were indispensable for the economic development of the State of Israel. With the need to build housing en masse in the 1950s, the Mizrahim became poorly paid construction workers. The high profits generated by cheap labor resulted in a rapid increase in construction companies run or owned by Ashkenazim. Employed mainly in the unskilled sector of agricultural production within large state projects, Mizrachim provided a large part of the labor to settle the country. In the case of agricultural settlements, they received less and inferior land than Ashkenazi settlements like the kibbutzim and far less adequate means of production, which led to lower production, lower incomes, and the gradual economic collapse of many Mizrachi settlements. [50] After agricultural development and construction reached saturation point in the late 1950s and 1960s, the government moved towards industrialization of the country and Mizrachi workers once again became important to Israel's rapid development. Much of the Mizrahim became an industrial proletariat during this period. (In recent years, the monthly wages for assembly line workers in textile factories have ranged from $ 150 to $ 200, roughly the same as many Third world workers.) [51] Indeed, Israel's efforts to attract foreign (primarily Jewish) investment were based in part on the "attractiveness" of cheap local labor. The low wages of the workers led to a widening gap between the higher and lower wage brackets in industry. Developing cities, important for industrial production, thus in fact became "corporate cities," in which a single factory became the largest single employer for an entire city, the future of which was consequently inextricably linked to the future of this company. [52]

While the system banished the Mizrahim to the futile, lower end of the scale, the Ashkenazim climbed to the top of the social scale by gaining good positions in management, marketing, banking, and technical professions. Recently published documents reveal the extent to which discrimination was a calculated policy that deliberately favored European immigrants, sometimes even creating the paradoxical situation that educated Mizrahim became unskilled workers and far less educated Ashkenazim were given high administrative posts. [53] Contrary to the classic principle that immigration is linked to the desire for individual, family and community improvement, this process was largely reversed for Mizrahim in Israel. What a social aliyah (literally »ascent «) Meant, was a Jerida (a» descent «) for the immigrants from Iraq or Egypt. What was a certain solution for persecuted Ashkenazi minorities and, so to speak, the salvation of culture, meant for the Mizrahim the complete denial of their cultural heritage, a loss of identity and a social and economic degradation.

 

The facade of egalitarianism

This discriminatory policy took place under the aegis of the Labor Party and its allies, whose rule included a network of institutions, the most important of which was the Histadrut General Workers' Union. The Histadrut controls the agricultural sector, the kibbutzim, and the largest industrial unions. With its own industrial companies, marketing cooperatives, transport companies, financial institutions and its network in the social sector, it wields immense power. (For example, Solel Boneh, a Histadrut construction company, could easily disembark private builders from the Likud party.) As a caricature of the trade union, the Histadrut, despite its avowed socialist ideology, wields tremendous power in favor of the elite by being permanently Ashkenazim with the Filling of higher management positions favors and Mizrachim only allows unskilled and semi-skilled worker jobs. The latter are thus kept in an unsecured position and are constantly worried about their jobs.The same conditions prevail in the oppressive structure, where regional factories (even state-owned regional factories) are run by the predominantly Ashkenazi kibbutzim, while the workers themselves are predominantly Mizrahim and Palestinians. The dominant institutions - or more appropriately, the "socialist" Zionist elite - have in this way really pushed the mizrahim into underdevelopment, and this contrasts with Ashkenazi denial of such processes as well as claims that these processes were unconscious and unplanned .

The dominant socialist-humanist discourse in Israel hides this negative dialectic of wealth and poverty behind a mystifying facade of egalitarianism. The Histadrut and the Labor Party, which the workers claim to represent, monopolize the socialist language. Their May Day celebrations, the fluttering of the red flags next to the blue and white, and their speeches on behalf of the "working class" mask the fact that the Labor Party network really only represents the interests of the Ashkenazi elite, whose members are nonetheless nostalgic as Eretz Israel HaOwedet (Working Land of Israel). The Mizrahim and the Palestinians, the majority of the workers in Israel, are represented by special Histadrut departments, which are tellingly called the "Oriental Department" and the "Minority Department" respectively (The Histadrut, of course, is not concerned with exploitation workers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip). The manipulation of syndicalist language and the use of socialist slogans has only served as a pretext for oppression. As a consequence, militant Mizrahim had to grapple with a kind of deep-seated aversion to the term "socialist", since the Mizrahim of the lower class associated the term "socialist" more with oppression than with liberation.

Although the official melioristic world-improving discourse suggests a gradual narrowing of the gap between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, the differences are more blatant today than they were two generations ago. [54] The system continues to reproduce, e.g. in the different treatment of today's European immigrants compared to long-established oriental settlers. While the standard of living of second-generation Mizrachim stagnates in poor residential areas, newly arrived Russian immigrants (excluding Mizrachim from Georgia) are housed by the government in comfortable accommodations in central areas. (I am not examining the discrimination against the Ethiopian Jews, who today experience the same oppression as the Mizrahim in the 1950s, supplemented by the additional humiliation of religious harassment.) Indeed, the establishment's ethnic loyalties to immigration policy became particularly evident. While pretending to promote a general aliyah and the end of the diaspora, the establishment - because of its (unnamed) fear of a demographic overhang of the Mizrachim - vigorously pushed the immigration of Soviet Jews - a majority of whom would prefer, into one other country to go. In the case of the Ethiopian Jews, who desperately wanted to leave and whose lives were in danger, it let things slip.

"Nine Out of Four Hundred (The West and the Rest)" Title of the action by artist Meir Gal. Nine out of four hundred pages in the official school history book deal with the history of the Mizrahim, 1997.

The largely separate and unequal educational system in Israel also reproduces the ethnic division of labor through a system that continuously prepares Ashkenazi students for prestigious administrative jobs that require a strict academic education, while Mizrachi students for labor jobs be targeted with low status. Ashkenazim are twice as likely to be represented in administrative positions. The schools in Ashkenazi neighborhoods have better equipment, better teachers and higher status. Ashkenazim have an average of three years longer school education than Mizrahim. They attend high schools 2.4 times more often than mizrahim, and their proportion in universities is five times as high. [55] In addition, most Mizrachi children attend school facilities established by the Ministry of Education as schools for the "te'unej tipu'ach" (literally, "who need education or upbringing" or "who are culturally impoverished"), an objective that implies that cultural differences are equated with inferiority. According to Shlomo Swirski, the system of upbringing functions as "a huge stamping mechanism which, among other things, has the effect of lowering the achievements and expectations of oriental children and their parents". [56]

In whatever area - immigration policy, urban development, labor policy, government subsidies - we find the same patterns of discrimination over and over again, affecting even the smallest details of everyday life. For example, the government subsidizes certain staple foods, including European-style bread. Pita, preferred as a food by Mizrahim and Palestinians, is not subsidized. These discriminatory practices, which were developed in the earliest periods of Zionism, are reproduced every day in all fields, and they reach into the very last seams of the Israeli social system. As a result, despite their majority status, the Mizrahim are underrepresented in the national centers of power: in the government, in the Knesset, in the higher echelons of the military, in the diplomatic corps, in the media, in academic life. And they are over-represented on the fringes of society and in the stigmatized regions of professional and social life.

“6 of 511 a tribute to Meir Gal”. Ortal Ben Dayan holds the six pages that Mizrachi artists represent in Igal Zalmona's “100 Years of Israeli Art” art catalog. 2011.