“Hitler was right!” – Intersectionality in Israel

The complexities of race and nationalism in Israeli society show many of their elements in this short video.

This is a recording from a demonstration on the 25 December 2009 against the deportation of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarakh, East Jerusalem, where Israeli settlers are taking over the Palestinian side of the city with the legal backing of the Israeli courts. [1] and [2].

It shows two Mizrahi (Jews of Arab origin) men shouting at the demonstrators who they perceive as predominantly Ashkenazi. (Jews of European origin) Although both the settlers and the judges involved the Sheikh Jarakh disaster are also of Ashekenazi decent, it is only the lefty non-zionist demonstrations who receive such anti-semitic and homophobic remarks.

The Ashkenazi’s cultural and economic dominance over Mizrahi Jews in Israel and their desperate dependence on a racist nationalist society in which ‘filthy Arabs’ are at least ranked lower than them, might explain these Mizrahi reaction to this demonstration. This antagonistic relationship has been exploited many times by Israel’s right wing political parties – who are also all led by European Jews – in order to mobilize against the Left.

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9 thoughts on ““Hitler was right!” – Intersectionality in Israel”

  1. Im a bit muddled by your general argument here….. Not quite sure in what sense Hitler was right……..unless you are pointing to a double meaning in what the two men were shouting

    “The Ashkenazi’s cultural and economic dominance over Mizrahi Jews in Israel and their desperate dependence on a racist nationalist society in which ‘filthy Arabs’ are at least ranked lower than them, might explain these Mizrahi reaction to this demonstration.”

    How about the fact that the two men shouting Hitler comments are just right wingers who self identify as mizrachi jews rather than ashkenazi jews as an explanation for why they reacted like they did? No need to impute a “desperate dependence” into their existence. Im sure most Mizrachi Jews would be pretty offended by such a characterisation.

    On a couple of points of fact:
    The ‘upper class’ left in Israel, generally speaking do not consider themselves to be non-zionist. Actually it is quite likely most people at the march self identified as Zionists.

    Not all right wing parties in Israel are led by right wingers – as an example, Shas is not.

  2. 1) I guess one can “read” this action in many ways, I just shortly tried to describe what I see there. Hitler was right for these two men in the sense that he killed filthy Ashkenazis (ignoring the fact Libyan Jews were also murdered in the holocaust, a fact being ignored also in Israeli schools). But they will never call Begin, Bibi or Barak filthy Ashkenazis, they only call that way the ones who they perceive as leftists (being lefty or not is not the question, Peres for example was always a horrific nationalist, but he was still stamped as a “lefty” in the 80es, thus also as Ashkenazi). I think that this burst of “Antiashkenazism” is just a weird twist of the very common Zionist Antisemitism, picturing the European Jew as weak and feminine in contrast to the Israeli strong and somehow oriental/orientalized men.

    2) Having the privilege knowing many people who were in the demo, and knowing my way around in the Jerusalem lefty scene, I can quite surely say that the vast majority of the protesters will identify themselves as Anti-zionists or Non-zionists. They also called slogans you will rarely hear in “left-zionist” demos. you will get beaten by one of their organizers if you will shout “Sheikh Jarakh veBil’in, teshukhrar Falestin” like the people in the demo did…

  3. I think Anti ashkenazimism is an interesting thing. From a non israeli perspective – ie someone who sees the middle east dispute played out in britain/the british media etc, I also think it is interesting that lots of critics of Israel/Zionism have a sentimentilised view of Mizrachi politics/attitude thinking that

    a) Mizrachim are just like the Palestinians: oppressed by the Ashkenazi/Zionist elite
    b) that Mizrachi Jews are some sort of missing link that are able to bridge the divide between jews and palestinians because of their history in Arab lands
    c) there is a great schism within Israeli society along ashkenazi/mizrachi lines.

    The interesting thing is that in the sentimentalisation these people tend to ignore that many mizrachim have right wing views and many ashkenazim have left wing views.

    It makes me pretty uncomfortable talking about ashkenazi and mizrachi attitudes in this way. Im sure a lot of people at that march were Mizrachi Jews and obviously, it is pretty clear there are a lot of right wing mizrachi Jews.

  4. I don’t have a clue which media you are actually consuming, almost all media i read ignore the mizrachi question….

    i would have to say that yes, mizrachim are oppressed by ashkenazis (not as much as palestinians off course) and there is a very big gap between mizrahim and ashkenazim. It is silenced by the israeli media, but its clearly there.

    Romanticising mizrahis as the ones who can bring peace was never the discourse of the israeli radical left. it just suggested that the common oppression by the ashkenzi elite could create an alliance.

    The fact is that many mizrahis (and i guess the majority of them) support “right wing” parties and not “left wing” parties (if Kadima or Meretz are left, what i don’t accept at all). This fact lies in many historical reasons I am too tired to explain right now. It must be said though that the most blunt racism againt mizrahim comes from the israeli “liberal left” with its parties like Meretz or Shinui.

  5. I’m slightly feverish in bed so I’m not so attuned to levels of irony, but how is the act of “hoeing” respectively viewed by said Ashkenazi and Mizrahi? Does the use of the term “hoer” by these gentlemen – used in a very loose sense – refer to some agrarian aspect of this potential enmity that has hitherto passed me by?

    Once I’m better, I’m sure it will become entirely apparent that the subtitles have just been spellchecked with a rather neutered dictionary, but until then I’m rather liking the idea of insults and slurs traded on the basis of agricultural activities.

  6. errrrr….. you may want to revise your synopsis. It is an ‘in your face’ fact that Israel was created by the left who are predominantly ashkenazi. And although the ‘right’ include ashkenazim, they have far more sephardim affiliates than the left.

  7. Leopold Trepper

    I’ve probably come a bit late to this party but people interested in the mzrahi/askenazi split may want to read Rachel Shabi’s “Not the enemy; israel’s jews from arab lands”. Its pretty good, and dissects a lot of the issues raised above.
    i saw her give a lecture on it in the jewish book week festival last year, it got a generally good reaction but some people reacted fairly negatively to it, I think as they perceived it as being anti-zionist.

    incidentally i believe there was a left-wing mizrahi group in the 80s called “the black panthers” which i believed acted across ethnic lines (ie including the Palestinians)

  8. On this topic, you may want to check out this truly vile website : http://barenakedislam.wordpress.com/

    Although they sell themselves as anti-Muslim, and are a pack of serious racists, they also buy into the anti-Ashkenazi thing in the most appalling way – Liberal, Ashkenazi ( and they conflate the two) Jews were slaughtered in the Shoah as divine punishment for assimilation according to these nutcases. They use the most graphic holocaust photos to make their point and somehow manage to blame both Muslims and Ashenazim for the Shoah – while managing to avoid implicating Hitler! They claim to speak for the majority of us, so might be time to set them straight.

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