Thursday, January 24, 2019

  • Thursday, January 24, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Two different articles published in the past couple of days are very instructive in pointing out the racism of the supposedly "progressive" Left.

One was from a group of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish organizations, excoriating the Jewish Voice for Peace in its defense of being anti-Zionist.

JVP wrote:
Zionism is and was an Ashkenazi-led movement that othered, marginalized and discriminated against Jews from across the Middle East and North Africa that it termed Mizrahim (the ‘Eastern Ones’).
 In a scathing response, the Sephardic groups showed how JVP was racist in its misrepresenting the Sephardic experience:

We are writing to express our denunciation with Jewish Voice for Peace’s (JVP) latest document, “Our Approach to Zionism”, which tokenizes, appropriates, revises and explicitly lies about Mizrahi and Sephardic history and experiences in order to promote a hostile, anti-Israel agenda. As Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews, we reject JVP’s framing of the Mizrahi and Sephardic experience as a driving force of their anti-Zionism and we request that JVP remove all references to Mizrahi and Sephardic history in this document and in all other organizational literature. We ask them to stop in their failed attempts to represent Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews, in any capacity.

.... Because it cannot accept the simple historical truth that most Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews are and continue to identify as Zionist, JVP instead propagates a portrayal of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews as pawns without any agency. We reject this revisionism, and call it out for the orientalism and racism that it is.

...Today, the majority of the Mizrahi and Sephardic community resides in Israel, and the vast majority of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews, in Israel and in diaspora, are self-identified Zionists. In seeking to obscure that reality in service of its own narrow ideological ends, the JVP statement perpetuates a history of racist exclusion where Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews are spoken for and spoken over.

The document fails to recognize and address the rampant state-sanctioned anti-Semitism – frequently taken under the banner of anti-Zionism in the 20th century. Under the color of law, one million indigenous Jews from the Middle East and North Africa were persecuted, dispossessed and ultimately fled or were ethnically cleansed from countries their ancestors lived in millenia. Of those, 650,000 found refuge in Israel, the place where they regained freedom, rights and a sense of personal security. It fails to grapple with the terrible truth that the most tangible political accomplishment of anti-Zionism in the 20th century was not to establish a Palestinian state, but to engender the decimation of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish communities across the Middle East. As a (now-publicly) anti-Zionist organization whose spokespeople and leadership continue to be predominantly Western and Ashkenazi, JVP must reckon with the deeply-embedded anti-Mizrahi and Sephardic orientation inside the anti-Zionist movement.

...Simply put, in the fight for Mizrahi equality, JVP has not been and is not now an ally, and more often than not it is has explicitly aligned itself with those who have done us harm. We condemn its self-congratulatory and ahistorical attempt to position itself as a friend of the Mizrahi community even as it continues to talk over and erase actual, extant, and living Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish community organizations.

There is an equally scathing article from Sarah Levin, a Sephardic Jew, describing exactly what is wrong with the Women's March from the perspective of Jewish women whose families lived in Muslim countries.

Jewish women from Arab countries have a visceral understanding and concern of the inequities and oppression faced by women in the Middle East. Our mothers and grandmothers lived to tell stories of being oppressed, third-class citizens who fled or were chased out of the region as refugees because of anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist governments. They moved on only to have their experiences and resulting outlooks ignored.

... Controversies around “white Jews” versus women of color ignore important nuances of Jewish diversity by totally leaving out Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish women. This erasure further alienates Sephardic and Mizrahi women. It feels as though our inclusion in the national Women’s March will only be welcomed if we align with a narrative where Middle Eastern women stand in opposition to the views of “privileged, white Jews” and Zionism. I totally reject this. Sephardic and Mizrahi women’s intersectionality provides incredible opportunities for relationship-building in progressive spaces, but the vast majority of us continue to be on the margins, unable to feel we belong or are truly, unconditionally welcomed in movements like the Women’s March.

My refusal to participate in the Women’s March was fueled by progressive feminists in the United States, including Jews, who routinely ignore the very real and ongoing plight of Middle Eastern women, including Jewish women. This is personal for me as I reflect on my great-grandmother who fled anti-Semitism in Turkey, and as I sit and listen to my mother-in-law recall traumatic memories of escaping state-sanctioned anti-Semitic persecution in Iraq. I don’t want to join any women’s movement that doesn’t speak out loudly and boldly against the mass human-rights violations and brutal oppression of Muslim, LGBTQ and religious minority women in Arab countries as a result of war, extreme patriarchy and misogynistic religious interpretation.

The Women's March and JVP and the other "progressive" movements have chosen to align themselves with the misogynist Muslims, whom they consider to be people of color, and to ignore the non-European women who have been oppressed throughout centuries by those very same Muslims.

Given a choice of two groups of women who have the same skin tone, the "progressive" movement chooses to support the oppressors and to ignore the oppressed (except to use them cynically and against their will to score political points.) Their actions contradict everything they claim about intersectionality and women's rights and human rights.

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