22 June 2010

Persecution of Rachel Shabi

This may or may not be Rachel Shabi, the author of "We look like the enemy".

Rachel Shabi, a Guardianista correspondent in Israel, a far-left Jew of Iraqi descent minces no words when it comes to the country which she chose to call home:

For decades, Mizrahi Jews have been disadvantaged, disempowered and derided as coming from an inferior Oriental culture that would somehow sink the Jewish state if left uncorrected. Israeli officials openly warned as much – for instance the former prime minister Abba Eban who, during the 1960s, explained that it should be state policy to infuse Mizrahi Jews with "an occidental spirit, rather than allow them to drag us into an unnatural orientalism".

This wouldn't be by any chance because "Oriental culture" generally involves corruption, misogynism, despotism, homophobia, persecution of minorities and garbage-filled cities?

For decades those Mizrahi Jews have had their accents mocked [oh humiliation! Not the accents!!!], their cultures dismissed, their children stunted in downgraded schools – does that not count as racism? Take a walk through the corridors of a high-achieving school in the northern (Ashkenazi) districts of Tel Aviv and compare that to a school in the city's Mizrahi-dense southern suburbs, if you think the situation is any more than marginally improved today.

Oh really? This segregation sounds just awful, doesn't it? Except that Mizrahi Jews were kicked out of Arab lands without any belongings and those that had any (or education) usually ended up in the US or Europe with Israel sheltering the very poorest and least educated among them.

Of course in any western city you will always find poor immigrants living in the wealthiest districts and their kids going to the best schools. Rachel spent her childhood in the UK so she would know first-hand that schools like Eaton are filled almost entirely with Jamaican kids. And we all know that poor immigrant kids are exactly the kind of children studying in the "high-achieving" schools in Arab countries that Rachel admires so much. If you don't know it for yourself any Sudanese immigrant to Egypt will be more than happy to explain exactly how wonderful his life is.

There is just one minor problem with all that... I have always thought that Ofra Haza was synonymous with Israeli culture. And never classified Shaul Mofaz, Amir Perez, Shlomo Ben Ami, Gabi Ashkenazi, Dan Halutz as "low achievers". And the fact that non-religious Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews are marrying each other like there is no tomorrow gives the appearance of undermining Rachel's argument just a tad.

Still, if you find Rachel's piece to be representative of Israeli society, you will surely like some of the comments from the usual Guardian CiF crowd:

Basically, it boils down to this: Mendelsohn good, very good. Falafel bad, very baaaad.

Quite. I mean have you ever seen those racist Ashkenazi Jews as much as touching falafel?


Peter Sugarman said...

Eban was never PM

zkharya said...

She is full of ----

Mark said...

Sure but you got to give her some leeway.  She didn't go to a good school.

Dick Stanley said...

Well, she certainly looks like the enemy in that get-up. She's also got the appropriate work address.

Akaky said...

Mizrahi Jews? Are there Donna Karan Jews as well, or Armani Jews too? I've never heard of Christian Dior Jews-the first name may be throwing me off a bit, unless Dior was passing.

Noga said...

"for instance the former prime minister Abba Eban"

It's the kind of mistake that proves how ill-suited she is to write anything authoritative about Israel's history. Stupid ignorat cow. I mean it.