• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

“No, Israel is not a land of powerful and privileged white Europeans”


Israeli author and activist Hen Mazzig believes more and more people are trying to get the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to revolve around ethnicity. The narrative is used to make it appear as if Israel was created as a refuge for oppressed white Jews from Europe, and that white Europeans ended up oppressing dark-skinned Palestinians. It makes Mazzig react strongly.

“As an Israeli, and the son of an Iraqi-Jewish mother and a North African-Jewish father, it is painful to witness such a portrayal,” he wrote in an article in the LA Times.

Mazzig writes that his origin is Mizrahi Judaism, that is, Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. The Mizrahi Jews today make up the majority of Jews in Israel. He thinks their story disappears in the erroneous narrative.

«Our ancestry is from the Middle East and North Africa. Only about 30 percent of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi Jews (ie, Jews of European descent), or descendants of European Jews. I am amazed that many media and politicians around the world are ignoring or undermining the facts and history of the Mizrahi Jews. Maybe it’s because our story shatters a stereotype about the identity of my country and my people “, writes Mazzig.

Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, was not established for just one type of Jew.

«It was established for all the Jews of the world, whether they come from the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, Asia or Europe. Wherever Jews physically reside, they maintain a connection to the land of Israel, where the history of the Jews began and where it continues to be written to this day. “

He believes that many of those who call Israel “apartheid” tend to define Israelis as European Jews only. That most Jews come from the Middle East and North Africa does not fit into their narrative.

«I think their misrepresentations are part of a strategic campaign to label Israel as an extension of a privileged and powerful white Europe, in order to defend their attacks on the country. That mindset is a signal of a dangerous trend that portrays Israel as a colonialist aggressor rather than a haven for all those who have fled oppression. The worst thing is that it removes the story of my family who came to Israel from Iraq and Tunisia. “

Throughout most of history, Mizrahi Jews have not enjoyed sovereignty and equality in the Muslim world. For over a thousand years, they were treated as second-class citizens – dhimmis – under Muslim domination in an Arab country.

“In Iraq, despite being“ equal citizens ”on paper, my family experienced repeated persecution. The first organized attack came in 1941. A Nazi-inspired uprising took the lives of hundreds of Jews. The survivors were forced to live in fear. My great-grandfather was mistakenly accused of being a Zionist spy and was executed in Baghdad in 1951. My mother’s family was allowed to emigrate the same year, but with only one suitcase, “Mazzig writes in his post.

Hen Mazzig has an Iraqi-Jewish mother and a North African-Jewish father, who believes the story of the Mizrahi Jews is being deliberately undermined by those who want to demonize Israel. (Photo: Private)

In all, 850,000 Jews ended up as refugees from Arab and Muslim countries. For most of them, Israel was the salvation.

«One of the central themes of Judaism is a story of national liberation in the face of imperial power. Israel is a place where an indigenous people has regained its land and revived its language, despite being surrounded by hostile neighbors and threatened by radicalized Arab nationalists who cannot tolerate any political unity in the region other than their own. Jews expelled from nations throughout the Middle East who sacrificed everything they had have been instrumental in building and defending the Jewish state since the beginning. “

Mazzig hopes the story of the Mizrahi Jews will come out better in the future.

«There is no doubt that the establishment of Israel created a sanctuary for the Jews who survived the Holocaust and extreme oppression in Europe. Still, we can not acknowledge the story at the expense of the Mizrahi Jews who, like so many others, regardless of skin color, shared the dream of a Jewish state long before the state of Israel was established, “Mazzig concludes in his post. >

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