How Hebrew teaches us something about ourselves

A few years ago, a book titled “Echoes of an identity: A third-generation who writes Mizrahi,” was published in Israel. It is a collection of accounts of third generation Israelis of Middle Eastern descent, expressing their sense of identities. The book speaks of the failure of Israel to become a melting pot where all Jewish sects completely fuse together. In a sense, that such a book exists at all demonstrates how Mizrahi identity was able to leave a mark on the Israeli cultural scene.

Nevertheless, we cannot speak of a centralized Mizrahi cultural movement that impacts the community or Israeli society in general. The “movement” is still confined to Israeli intellectuals of Middle Eastern origins. In a Haertz article, poet Mati Shmuelof meticulously describes the contradictions within the Mizrahi identity. He speaks of how the same Mizrahi Jew who adopt a weekly routine of watching Arabic movies on Saturday nights, admiring Arab artists like Fouad al-Mohandes and Farid al-Atrash, would then shout “death to the Arabs” and vote for right-wing parties like Shas and Likud — only because he despises the Ashkenazis who vote for labour: the well groomed “European” leftist party.

Part of the article of Nael AlToukhi — How Hebrew teaches us something about ourselves, Part 5

פורסם על ידי Mati Shemoelof

Mati Shemoelof was born in 1972 in Haifa. He is a poet, editor, and writer. He graduated with honors from the University of Haifa where he studies Film and History. He has published seven poetry books so far. The last of these was published in Germany in 2019 in a bilingual edition "Baghdad | Haifa | Berlin", published by Aphorismha Verlag [Berlin]. His first article book “An eruption from the east: Re visiting the emergence of the Mizrahi artistic explosion and it's imprint on the Israeli cultural narrative 2006-2019“ was published on “Iton 77” publishers in Israel (2020).

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