Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Racism in Israel

Kesim, Ethiopian rabbinical leaders, at a Sigd celebration at Jerusalem's Haas Promenade when thousands gather to pray and recite Psalms.
Kesim, Ethiopian rabbinical leaders, at a Sigd celebration at Jerusalem's Haas Promenade when thousands gather to pray and recite Psalms.

Racism is a stubborn prejudice. Someone may have firmly decided to stop racism and still think, feel and act in racist ways for decades more, until many years of practice and stumbling eventually clean up the act.

Israel is not a racist State. Its budding Constitution and most active High Court of Justice forbid preferential treatment of any ethnic group, just as of either sex, etc. That’s a good and weighty thing but not enough.

Many a democratic State has full equality on the books but still much blatant and subtle (the meanest) bigotry and discrimination.

The good news is that Western and Arab Jews are now already so much “intermarried” in Israel that demographists cannot distinguish Ashkenazics from Sephardics anymore.

The bad news is that Israelis know what it means to be human. Shit happens, though not to such an extent and with such viciousness as anti-Zionists like Haaretz writers fictitiously frequently have claimed.

Nowadays, Mizrachi music is everywhere in the media. That’s progress.

Another example of progress is the insight that Ethiopian Israelis have been targeted by the police baselessly and disproportionally, resulting in them getting in trouble with the law – and not the other way around.

We won’t settle for what’s in the US, where Blacks are overrepresented in jails and as victims of police brutality. (Death row we don’t have at all.)

Arab Palestinians in the West have claimed that they are not accepted because of racism. But mind you, Jews are hated by 200 million Arabs, and the reverse is not oppression. When women hate men, that is not sexism. When some Ashkenazic Jews (a minority of Israeli Jews) dislike Arabs, that may be racism but only if they have the same antipathy against non-Western Jews. There is no reverse sexism and there is no reverse anti-Semitism. (Oppressed persons can abuse their oppressors but not oppress them.) Some Jews dislike Gentiles and there are good historical reasons for that and we should not blame the victim.

Sudanese fugitives and Israeli Bedouins seem to have gotten into trouble disproportionally in Israel in recent years. Pilipino migrant workers have been seriously underpaid. Yes, there appear some racist elements there. Paradoxically, many racist scandals have plagued Left-wing politicians!

And Arab Israelis have been discriminated against and abused and not too many Jews give a hood. Understandable historically but still wrong.

The sides dispute if the new Nation State Law discriminates Gentiles or only has a whiff of Nationalism around it. (Nationalism is not racism. It can still be unfair and if so, no doubt the High Court will disqualify it.)

The same scrutiny can be expected about the Culture Loyalty Bill.

Equality does not mean equally responsible. A Jew bothering an Arab in Israel should be punished more than the reverse offense because the Jew is playing a home match and in addition doesn’t come from a culture that preaches hatred – he should know better. Similarly, an Arab who himself or whose family lives in Israel for generations already, should be held more accountable than an Arab from the West Bank.

Notable advocates against chauvinism and prejudice are Israel President Ruvi Rivlin, Jerusalem Post Op-Ed Editor Seth J. Frantzman, the Times of Israel and the Israeli Supreme Court.

No one claimed that Israel is perfect already. It’s a work in progress, as is any society. Protests against racism prove that we are fighting against it more than that they signal how wrong the situation is. We’ll get there.

Happy Holiday today, Ethiopian Jews!

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch Holocaust survivors in The Netherlands (Westerbork), and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. His fields of attention are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine, Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (of young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners, and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation) and Veganism. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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