Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On The Voices Denying An "Arab Palestinian People"

The following was published at Facebook here.

It follows from the publication of an op-ed.

Of course, there were comments. A few I'll place at the bottom of this.

The content zeroes in on one aspect of the original op-ed and responds to comments previously made on his piece.  I feel some fisking is required as it relates to the issue of the right of Jewish to resettle the Land of Israel and the ramifications of our presence there. I Iwill, however, include the entire text so as to avoid charges of selective quoting.

The FB post and my comments in blue and bracketed:


To each and every one of you that wrote to me about using the word "Ashkenazi" in my article to inquire about it, to ask why I did it, or who publicly (or privately) had to made a statement, calling me a Jew hater, anti-Israel, dangerous, racist, etc.

Ask yourself: when was the last time you were as outraged about race issues? About actual racial injustices against minorities? When was the last time you spoke about race issues in Israel? Did you speak out about the discrimination against Mizrahim in Israel? [This is an issue that Menachem Begin and his Herut Party got involved in almost from the start, 1949. His famous election eve speech in June 1981 was on this charge. As A Betari and Herut member, I can vouch that I and hundreds of thousands of Ashkenazi Jews did speak out and even did something and even improved the situation] Against the disproportionate representation of minorities like Mizrahim and of course Ethiopians, Druzim, Arabs, in leadership of most industries and official bodies? [Two of my daughters went to Addis Abba for several weeks to do community work, including Pesach] Did you protest in the streets for the Ethiopians? [I was involved with כנף דרום לציון {South Wing to Zionrun by now Likud MK Avraham Neguise and Yehuda Etzion in the late 1980s and almost went to Addis with Geulah Cohen in 1991] For any of the minorities in Israel?

If the last time it happened was my article, because I mentioned Ashkenazim in a way that you didn’t like, it dose [sic] not make me the racist.

These are the facts: 
- Jews are indigenous to Israel whether Ashkenazi or Mizrahi, I’ve mentioned it in my article.
- There is a disproportionate number of North American immigrants in the settlements. [I would love to see the proof of that, especially as compared to any other immigrant group, like from the former Soviet Union. I think we are more highly profiled due to the need of journalists to speak with someone who actually speaks a passable English for TV & radio interviews. Even Sara Hirschhorn's figures are disputed]
- The majority of North American Jews are of Ashkenazi descent (90%) [and? until the early 19th century, most immigrant Jews in the United States were of a Sfaradi origin but things change and Jews could get out of Europe but either couldn't from Arab/Islamic lands or didn't want to]
- Ashkenazim in Israel have a history of discrimination against Mizrahim and minority communities in Israel. [that could be understood as a bit racist. I think Yemenites discriminate against everyone, Iraqis don't appreciate North Africans and vice versa and so on]
- The fact that those voices, in my personal experience (as I wrote), are so passionate not about returning to our legitimate homeland, but about *denying* another peoples connection to the land, is exactly the irony I was talking about. ["those" re those that discriminate? Sfaradim do not *deny* Arabs recognition as a separate national grouping inherently "Palestinian"? really? And, by the way, although I cannot point to figures, the proportion of "mixed" Ashkenazi-Mizrachi/Sfaradi marriages in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria I think are quite high or impressive as compared to any other sub-community in Israel]

That is not to say that there aren't racist intolerant Mizrahim [whew!], it is to say that there is a problem in Israel with race, and coincidentally the group with a history of institutionalized racism against people of color is the same group in the West Bank who is vocally opposing Palestinian self-determination, from what I have seen. [that is an opinion, a problematic one and a charge I would deny]

All of the radical right wing experts on "how to appeal to progressives and millennials" and the fake progressives that went to universities in the US and in their time achieved nothing but creating more noise about BDS and more hate against Jews [ah, it's those "experts' fault?], all the linguistic experts on which words work and how to make “the case for Israel to liberals” that have failed over and over again, [and the writer has succeeded? as a progressive Mizrachi?] All of you that challenge my commitment to my country [very few challenged your commitment. Almost all challenged your charges, your "facts" and your perspectives] when you served for few months, or never at all [poor Shimon Peres, having not served in the IDF], in the Israeli army while I gave 5 years, All of you that were born and raised in the diaspora and still feel comfortable attacking an Israeli that STILL lives here [I'm still here after 48 years] and dedicated the last 7 years of my life to defending Israel around the world, facing hundreds of protestors, and all of you that liked me as long as I say only what you want to hear, then you “love” me...

To all of you, know that if anything, today you’ve pushed me away, further, and you've made my case for me. You are the problem.[no, your ideological perceptions and your new opinions are problematic as they are based on facts that aren't quite facts]


----------------------------------------

Comments at the post:

I had a similar experience while in Israel in the late 60s/early 70s.... I will not name the kibbutz, but suffice to say that it was populated with mainly European Jews - most being Holocaust survivors, and a very few of Turkish and other Middle=Eastern descent.... I have witnessed discrimination, racial and, yes, fist fights ... it left a bitter taste in my mouth....

Truth. Internalized Whiteness is a problem among left wing and right wing Jews, among Ashkenazim and Sephardim

As an Ashkenazi, I completely agree with you. Sometimes feels like there’s no unity between our own people. Truly disappointing.

I strongly disagree with some of your words and points you make but will never attack you on a personal level. I am very sad about the whole Ashkenazi/Mizrahi thing. We are Jews and it does not make the slightest difference where you lived in the diaspora and with whom you mixed. We all are from the twelve tribes no matter the shade of our skin. We are JEWS! That is it. And if there are more Jews from America in Judea and Samaria so be it, it does not matter. They are Jewish residents, not settlers, not Ashkenazim but Jewish residents of Israel.

No one should doubt your commitment to Israel. My father’s family has been in Israel since before the Ottoman’s and I grew up hearing about how the Ashkenazim just came in and took over. Needless to say there was resentment. What you said isn’t easy for everyone to hear, that’s why you are receiving the backlash.

[calling me a Jew hater, anti-Israel, dangerous, racist, etc.]

I never called you any of these things. In fact, I never insulted you at all.

[Ask yourself: when was the last time you were as outraged about race issues? About actual racial injustices against minorities?]

I speak about this stuff constantly. In fact, it's all I ever talk about.

In case you've forgotten, Jews in North America are on the receiving end of racist abuse as well.

[Did you speak out about the discrimination against Mizrahim in Israel? Against the disproportionate representation of minorities like Mizrahim and of course Ethiopians, Druzim, Arabs, in leadership of most industries and official bodies? Did you protest in the streets for the Ethiopians? For any of the minorities in Israel? ]

How about last week when I chided Bibi for the nation state law and lost like 50 friends in less than an hour?

[All of the radical right wing experts on "how to appeal to progressives and millennials" and the fake progressives that went to universities in the US and in their time achieved nothing but creating more noise about BDS and more hate against Jews, all the linguistic experts on which words work and how to make “the case for Israel to liberals” that have failed over and over again,]

This is where you've lost me.

If you're going to label everybody who took umbrage at that particular passage as "radical right wingers", then I suppose I am not all that welcome here. 

I'll bow out. Sorry for bothering you.

Sorry, in my opinion you zigged here when you should have zagged.

Your article in the Forward was incorrect and wrong in many parts and went way to far in trying to make its points. That certainly makes it fair game for discussion and criticism. It doesn’t make it fair game for questioning your commitment to Israel or to Zionism.

But your response here is incredibly defensive. Like your article itself, it goes too far. And I guarantee you that many of the people who object to many of the things you wrote in your article in the Forward have served the country for years and protested and fought against discrimination against Ethiopians and Mizrachim; and find all efforts to somehow say or imply that any group of Jews is somehow more “Jewish” or more indigenous to Eretz Yisrael than any other group wrong. Very wrong.

You did that in your article (among other things) and you also asserted that Arabs too have the claim to being indigenous to the land of Israel, which is also simply wrong.

These are things that I object to in your article and these are things I think we should be able to discuss without hyperbole and without accusations of hypocrisy or racism.

As you know, I fully support the goal of trying to connect with more people about the justice of Zionism and the incredible story that is the Jewish people’s return to sovereignty in their indigenous homeland. And I support and respect your passion for expanding that reach. I just think this article missed the mark and that it unfortunately could be used as another tool in the hands of those who seek to demonize and delegitimize Israel.

I am sure you disagree with me on this point. But I hope that is something we can discuss without vitriol or anger. Just as two Zionists who love Israel and the Jewish people and who want to figure out the best way (in our own little way) to help both as much as we can.

I can only speak for myself but you seem to be increasingly confusing legitimate criticism with a personal attack on your character...

With respect to those agreeing that Ashkenazis have discriminated against Mizrachi and others in Israel, sorry but that is a red herring. A straw man. I doubt many of the people critical of the article in the Forward disagree with that fact and in any event that is not what the article was about. At all.

Correct. It has nothing to do with the substance of the criticism.

Malkah's point is fine. Contend with it. But even still, how many compared to people who offered up legitimate concerns and also why not specify in this post that you are *not* referring to legitimate concerns
there are post’s and comments all over, whatsapp groups conversations, private messages I’m not going to screenshot everything. Just giving a taste. You’re content with “verbally assaults anyone who isn’t walking his party line”?
And specify what in this post?
I'm saying it's not an insulting accusation. Perhaps it's an incorrect accusation. But she's not calling you a name. So why not contend with it.
yeah, it’s an incorrect accusation, sorry, nvm
Correct. It has nothing to do with the substance of the criticism.

It’s very good that you got people thinking about so many issues.

Shalom! I’m only responding to the question you raised at the beginning of your defensive rant: “When was the last time you......” The last time, the many times, I thought/wrote was as a volunteer with an Ethiopian Israeli community in NYC.

you are one of the most dedicated pro-Israel people on the planet. That's a fact. I admire that. As for the discrimination, it exists. But don't you think it's lessening? As I said in one of my previous comments, there are so many "mixed" Israelis here now - like my three children. They don't consider themselves Mizrahi or Ashkenazi - if you asked them they would say that they are just Israelis.

No. Absolutely incorrect. I hope this isn't the best Israel education cam produce. Thus is basic history. The people who a history of institutionalized racism against mizrahim in Israel are on the Left and are opposed to west bank settlements.

I admire what you do and I'm sure your conclusions in this article are based on your personal experience - but there are two I would like to challenge: the first is that Palestinians want self-determination in the territories (all the evidence points to the fact they want a state in place of, not alongside Israel - a case not of self-determination but of Arab/Muslim imperialism as you yourself have written); the second is that the worst anti-Mizrahi racists are to be found on the Ashkenazi settler right. My view is that the left is equally, if not more racist towards Mizrahim, wilfully neglecting their grievances and refusing to recognise their rights to justice in the Arab-Israeli conflict. A case in point is the disgraceful way the Forward itself has covered the Iraqi-Jewish archive, showing more empathy to Iraqi claims than to the Jewish victims, and then refusing to publish letters from these Jews.

I don't think it's fair to blame the Ashkenzim from North America for the discrimination Mizrahim faced in Israel before they even made aliya. And in general, religious communities were not exactly beloved by the Mapay establishment, either, and outside of the major cities, settlers tend to be religious Zionists. So I don't think the argument of discrimination against Mizrahim is relevant to the Ashkenazim that your article is about.

What? You spoke of everybody who took issue with that one line in your article as if we're a monolithic hive of reactionary racist "settler" wingnuts. That's what I was challenging.  I never at any point insulted you. I never questioned your Zionism. I never called you a Jew hater. All I did was express concern over that paragraph and, as politely as I could, explain how it could be read/taken the wrong way (which it was). But the next thing I know, you're calling me a radical right winger. What the hell, man?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Israel would be perfect. A real case of historical justice, were it not for the people that had to be driven off the land, people that had to be killed to make the dream real.

Anonymous said...

You deny non Jews to be part of Israel. That puts you close to nazi ideology, no way around it, it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever feel like the good nazy?

YMedad said...

Listen, never use Nazi when trying to make a Jew feel bad. It doesn't work because it is so outlandish.
And don't do it in the context of the Arabs-called-Palestinians since their Mufti worked with Hitler. Sort of dumb to do that.