Right-wing extremists are currently engaged in a political brawl that has a decidedly ethnic flavor.
In the midst of the ongoing political unrest that has resulted from the installation of a new Israeli government last month, both the Israeli Jewish opposition and high-ranking Israeli generals have regularly called for acts of civil disobedience.
The current political scuffle has evolved to include an ethnic component in addition to what is commonly referred to as a left-right divide in Israel, or more precisely, a situation of extreme right versus extremely extreme right.
A Likud legislator recently said that the government’s opponents are wealthy and privileged Ashkenazi Jews who want to keep Moroccan, if not all, Mizrahi Jews (and even Palestinian Druze) under their control.
David (Dudi) Amsalem, a member of the Likud Knesset who was born in Jerusalem to Jewish parents from Morocco, said it bluntly: You are a gang of criminals encouraging rebellion.
Benjamin Netanyahu recently appointed Amsalem as Israel‘s junior justice ministry minister, and he added: Dan Halutz, a former Chief of Staff for the IDF, stated that he would instruct them not to report for reserve service. And these are the people who are said to be working for the country and protecting us.
“Well, I have a message for you. Even though it is true that the majority of us work for you, cleaning your gardens and houses, I also work, along with another two and a half million people. We all work for the country. At the demonstration, I noticed a lot of shiny things, and it turned out to be the Rolex watches the protesters were wearing. Simply visit and check out how many Mercedes they have.
Amsalem said, referring to Moroccan Jews, ” You’re willing to provide us with degrees and even cars, but you won’t let us rule. That was never granted to us: not in the armed forces, the judicial system, academia, or culture, and certainly not in the state prosecution service and the Supreme Court. And do you know who the wardens are in the Prisons Service? Muslims and Druze”
Because he wore a Cartier watch and was highly compensated, the opposition was not deterred by his remarks and accused him of hypocrisy (Amsalem responded that the watch, which has sentimental value, was given to him by his brother before he passed away).
Although it did not become a major issue until after the establishment of the Jewish settler colony in 1948, the ethnic divide that exists among Israeli Jews, particularly between Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and Asian and African Jews, the majority of whom are from the Arab world, is as old as the Zionist project.
Moroccan Jews, the poorest of what Israel referred to as the “Oriental communities” and who later came to be known as the “Mizrahim,” were a target of particular denigration from Israeli officials.
David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, had the following to say: Jews from Morocco lacked formal education. Arab practices are followed by them. “The Moroccan Jew took a lot from the Moroccan Arabs,” he stated. I would not want the Moroccan culture here.”