A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bigotry in the West Bank (No Arabs Involved)

Israelis have been known to joke that if the Arab world disappeared, or made real peace, Israelis would proceed to tear each other apart. This Ha'aretz piece suggests they might be right. In a West Bank settlement, Ashkenazi Jews, apparently Hasidim or haredis of some stripe, are resisting a court order to end segregation in the school between Ashkenazi and Sephardi/Mizrahi students. (Ashkenazi Jews are those of European heritage; Hasidim are mostly eastern European pietist Jews; haredis are ultra-Orthodox rigorists. Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews are those whose heritage lay in the Mediterranean world, either in Spain or Italy or the Arab world.)

Some quotes:
A group of Ashkenazi schoolgirls who approached the institute's side gate on Wednesday were driven away by a number of ultra-Orthodox men, who noticed Haaretz's photographer.

"The court and media don't understand that this is another world," a mother who is keeping her daughter out of school said. "The Hasidic program was created because of a different religious outlook. Only pure children attend it."

"The Mizrahi students' families don't belong with the other families," another parent said. "They have a television at home while the [Ashkenazim] speak Yiddish. The Mizrahi girls have a bad influence on our girls. No court will change anything," he added. "It's better for everyone to have separate study programs. This way each student keeps his identity - just like you wouldn't play Mizrahi and classical music on the same radio show," another resident said.

The school has 215 students from first to eighth grade, 35 percent of whom are Sephardi.

"It's a disgrace to this place, the ministry must intervene to stop the segregation once and for all," the father of one Mizrahi student said. "The Ashkenazis think they're more intelligent than we are, but what really bugs them is our skin color."
I offer no further editorial content. The article speaks for itself.

1 comment:

Abu 'Arqala said...

Rachel Shabi's "We Look Like the Enemy" discusses this topic in some detail.