Hillel Cohen discusses his new book on Mizrahim, Arabs, and Asheknazim in Israel
The prominence of Mizrahi Jews as perpetrators of violent acts against Palestinians that have topped the headlines in recent years was the starting point of my recent study. The media coverage and public denunciation of these incidents are usually accompanied by reference to the attackers’ Mizrahi origins, frequently invoking controversy among the commentators: Does ‘Mizrahi culture’ generate excessive violence towards Palestinians? Are the Israeli media racist, denouncing Mizrahi Jews more than they do others? Or maybe this violence has to do with class and religious perceptions rather than ethnic origin?
In this talk I will start with suggesting a definition to Mizrahi acts, i.e., what makes a certain act or view (violent or otherwise) to be defined as ‘Mizrahi’; then move on to present Mizrahi views and acts regarding the ‘Palestinian Question’ from the outset of Zionism to present. The changes over time will be discussed in the light of the influence of the Ashkenazi-Zionist hegemony over Mizrahim and Arabs alike, as well as vis-à-vis Palestinian acts and ideas regarding ethnic relations within the Yishuv and the Jewish society in Israel.