Writer and poet Almog Behar, an Open Letter signatory
A group of 'young' Mizrahi descendants of 'Arab Jews' in Israel have written another Open Letter to the Arab world. (Who are they? Israelis with at least one Jewish parent of Middle Eastern or North African origin. Those with one German, Polish or Latin American parent attest to the onward advance of intermarriage in Israeli society).
The signatories are all fired up by the revolutionary fervour sweeping the Arab world, and are begging to be part of the action.
Are they applauding the Arab protesters for wishing to aspire to the values of the only democracy of the region - Israel?
No such luck. The signatories feel they have been torn away from their true 'Arab' culture and language and have been repressed by Israel's domineering 'colonial, European' culture. Like the demonstrators of Tahrir Square, they live under a 'regime'. As leftist radicals they cannot help reverting to the well-worn slogans of 'solidarity' with repressed 'Palestinian-Israelis - a 'workers of the Middle East unite' type of solidarity.
Their ultimate goal reveals itself : an Andalusian model of interfaith coexistence. A 'golden era' revived.
My objections to this Open Letter are very much what they were to the last Open Letter, which this Mizrahi group wrote after President Obama's Cairo speech in 2009.
The letter-writers protest that their cultural past has been erased by Israeli racism, but they are in denial about their historical past - the Arab world's repression and persecution of their own parents. This is, after all, the reason why they are now Israelis. Their unwillingness to come to terms with the brutality and injustice of their past in the Arab world puts them at variance with the vast majority of Israelis who descend from Arab countries. Sharing a culture and language has never protected Jews from being 'ethnically cleansed'.
Next, the signatories commit the very mistake they accuse Israel of doing to them in reverse - they are asking to be taken into the comforting bosom of the dominating Arab, Muslim culture. The Andalusian model assumes thriving Jews and Christians are not equal partners, but under Muslim rule. Moreover, Arab Muslim culture has ruthlessly suppressed indigenous Berber, Kurdish, Coptic, Assyrian culture and language, and imposed dhimmi subjugation on Jews and Christians.
Is this what this tiny misguided group of starry-eyed Israelis really wants?
Here is an excellent comment from E. Eskel, who sums up the argument brilliantly:
Update: look who's now showing interest - card-carrying antisemite Gilad Atzmon.