December 11, 2005

Uppity Peretz upsets Asheknazim

Here's David Shasha's intro to an article published in the very useful Sephardic Heritage Update. The article itself is here.

Moustache Pete: Israel's New Labor Commissar
By: Steven Plaut

The recent victory of Amir Peretz as head of Israel's Labor Party has exposed the fault lines in the Sephardic community here in America. For so many years Sephardim have moved to the Right and have adopted a racism and reactionary posture that mirrors what they have been taught by their Ashkenazi overlords.

In most cases, Sephardim march to Ashkenazi drummer and will even attack with no mercy those Sephardim, such as the present writer, whose perspective seeks Sephardi liberation and self-empowerment.

Amir Peretz truly understands the problems that Sephardim face a lot better than Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu - or even Steven Plaut.

Mr. Plaut, amazingly a professor at an Israeli university, spouts the sort of racist drivel that is standard in the bottom-of-the-barrel world of The Jewish Press. What is even more amazing is that many Sephardim who read his arrogant and racist and deeply ignorant tripe will follow the argument and willingly demonize one of the first truly Sephardic leaders in Israel - a state that has done more to degrade the Sephardim and their cultural traditions than any entity in our long and illustrious history.

The article recapitulates many of the racist tropes of the hoary Zionist discourse: The authoritarian and barbaric Sephardi; the lazy Negro; the Sephardi as ignoramus; the Sephardi as hopelessly out of touch with what it truly means to be JEWISH.

That none of this racist drivel is actually true is not important - the key to this form of Ashkenazi discourse has always been to demonize Sephardi leaders by any means necessary while hiding behind the protective flag of Ashkenazi supremacy.

Plaut is effectively the equivalent of David Duke or some neo-Nazi in his rejection of Sephardic humanity and the legitimacy of a Moroccan to lead Israel.

That this vicious article will be rubber-stamped and forwarded by many Sephardim is a sign that we have lost any sense of who we are and what we stand for. We have simply become Ashkenazim and should understand what it has led - and what it will continue to lead - to. A people with no pride in who they are will be filled with the ignorance and dysfunctionalism that now plagues the Sephardim.

David Shasha is an interesting chap. He is enormously critical of Israel and yet he is no anti-zionist and he even finds the Chief Rabbi, Jonothan Sacks, an enlightened man. A man of catholic (well almost) tastes.

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