Just the other day, staunch Zionist and Iraqi Jew, Hen Mazzig wrote an article criticizing Marc Lamont-Hill’s black and white view of Israel, stating that Hill perceives Israel as a country full of Ashkenazim, and thus accuses Israel of being a purveyor of white supremacy.
Hill responds to Mazzig’s article in the snapshot below:
Hill says a lot of troublesome things here, but the most troubling is the quote:
“What [Mazzig] ignores, however is the racial and political project that transformed Palestinian Jews (who lived peacefully with other Palestinians) into the 20th century identity category of ‘Mizrahi’ as a means of detaching them from Palestinian identity.”
Not only is this not true, a basic-level knowledge of Mizrahi Jewish history says the exact opposite. At the risk of repeating myself, I wrote an article not too long ago dealing with this very issue. You can read it here.
Hill’s false assessment of the Mizrahi Jews comes from the same belief Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and unfortunately many Christian antisemites have that Jesus was a Palestinian and that the Palestinians are an ancient people, when in reality, the Mizrahi Jewish community predates the Palestinian people by centuries. Again, the aforementioned linked article unpacks that a lot more.
The most disturbing part about his comments, however, is the arrogance he displays in preaching to Hen Mazzig, and the Mizrahi community about their ethnic identity. Much like many black Americans would not take well to a white American explaining to us why we should or shouldn’t identify as African Americans, Marc Lamont-Hill has no business telling the Mizrahi Jewish community who they are, especially considering the fact that he himself does not seem to know.
So Hill’s comments were wrong and egregiously offensive for two main reasons:
1. He attempts to dictate to a historically oppressed people why they aren’t who they have identified as for millennia.
2. He identifies said people wrongly, revising history and revealing a lack of sensitivity and basic historical knowledge.
In the same way anti-Zionists attempt to pervert Dr. King’s legacy to fit their agenda, in the same way AJ+ recently released (and then retracted) a video claiming the Holocaust was a Zionist plot, and in the same way racists today make claims that the trans-Atlantic slave trade never happened, Hill engages in revisionist history; and whether he is being ignorant or dishonest, he needs to come forward, apologize, but most importantly, tell the truth.