About time: Israeli society fractures and it will only get better

I’m happy. Truly am. Finally we have a political discourse. Finally, we uncover the true face of our social and political players. Haredi parties extort Netanyahu for a few extra shekels, police brutality finally making its way to the front page and headlines, secular people operate public transportation on Shabbat in Jerusalem. What a feast!

It was a long time coming. Ben Gurion’s idea of a melting pot never materialised. Ever since giving six-hundred yeshiva students exemption from army service in 1948, it was clear that this was going to explode. Uncovered protocols from a 1960s cabinet meeting shed a light on how the white Ashkenazi elite saw Mizrachi people – they knew that one day Mizrachim would be a majority and therefore the education system must bring them up according to Western and European values, god forbid they’ll bring their Arab and Eastern values from home and turn Israel into another Arab state in the levant.

Israel and Israelis never addressed the inherent racism in our society. It was always covered by a personal example and solution here and there but never in a systematic level. The most obvious example is that Israel is yet to have a Mizrachi prime minister. And most of the Likud party high ranking members are Ashkenazi. Why? No idea. A different example is the supreme court – only recently did they finally have for the first time a Mizrachi Chief Justice (although this could be explained by the fact that it took a couple of generations for Mizrachi people to go up the career ladder of the justice system).

It’s a well known phenomenon in Israel that each cultural group looks down upon some other group. Even within Ashkenazim and Mizrachim there’s a class system. But below everyone are Ethiopian Jews (not counting Arabs, of course. And Palestinians. That are so below the scale, they are almost a different biological species). And it’s about time they stand up for themselves.

The same goes for secular people. They got so used to having their needs advertised and put on top priority every election cycle, and then crushed and pushed aside in favor of a political barter between some religious party and the prime minister. No more. The public backlash against the coalition agreement between Likud and Yahadut Hatora shows that something finally changed. It is no longer seen as a god sent truth. It is up for debate, even among secular people themselves who rightfully say that not all of the demands are so bad and atrocious. But there’s also a conflict between religious parties themselves on the religious nature of this country between Habait Hayehudi and the orthodox parties.

This is a fascinating process to witness, and I’m glad it’s finally happening. Israel is on a crossroad. One way leads towards a racist existence where the current social order remains intact. The other leads to a destruction and rebuilding of all of our public organizations – the government, justice system, police, education, welfare. It was long overdue. The deeper and more painful it will be in the short term, the better chances are this country will thrive in the long run.

About the Author
Son to immigrant parents from the FSU, holds a BA in Economics and MBA from Tel Aviv University. Served as a Captain in the IDF
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