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“We’re not a monolith, and even within the Mizrahi umbrella, our opinions aren’t going to be in complete unison”

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Jewish refugees from Yemen cross desert | Photo: Israeli National Photo Archive

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My family background and history allow for a unique perspective when it comes to Israeli politics. The paternal side of my family arrived in Israel in the 1930s from Yemen; the maternal side of my family arrived in the 1950s from Poland.

However, on social media, the dialogue pertaining to Israel pegs every member of my family, including me, as some “European white colonizer” with no connection to the region.

The absurdity of these claims gets overlooked, because of the simplicity of the argument. It attempts to paint a picture of the light-skinned European-looking Jew oppressing the darker-skinned indigenous Palestinian, to make it more easily relatable with North American politics, in a wilful distortion of history.

The effect has more than one advantage, as their statements can fit neatly in the character restrictions allotted in social media, while the proper response, which would involve explaining the Jewish people’s long history in the Diaspora, isn’t so easily summarized.

Explaining that history also does not have the same visual impact as picturing light-skinned people coming from Europe, to supplant the darker Middle Eastern natives.

The easiest way to combat this image is by simply stating how Jews like me exist, and as a majority in Israel. It is an effective counter, as it provides a glaring contradiction to their simplistic narrative, which proceeds to fall apart quickly. In comes this article in 972 online (an Israeli media), which tries to portray us speaking about our existence as “propaganda.”

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What’s incredibly ironic is that this piece is written by another Mizrahi Jew. While trying to brush away other Mizrahi voices, who wish to state a simple fact that throws a big wrench into a toxic narrative, she attempts to lift her own.

The same people elevating this voice, are the ones who repeatedly use any grievances we have, and twist it into demonization, with the aim of dismantling the very state many Mizrahi Jews now call home.

They only care about our perspective as long as it suits their narrative; one of the co-founders of the magazine the article was published in couldn’t even tell two Mizrahi athletes apart, but still shared that article on her social media.

If you only care to bring up injustices in order to paint the country as evil, then you’re not an ally. If you only care to talk about the Yemeni Jewish pioneers of the Kinneret who lost their homes, but not about the Yemeni Jews who were evacuated out of Silwan, then you’re not an ally. Not only will they not talk about it, they consider those very homes to be Palestinian today. You can’t complain that Mizrahim are having their stories suppressed one day, and the next day claim those very same voices, who are trying to express their opinions, are paid shills.

We’re not a monolith, and even within the Mizrahi umbrella, our opinions aren’t going to be in complete unison. However, we don’t need to be throwing our own under the bus by claiming their view is propaganda, simply because their voice doesn’t neatly fit into the western narrative of how you want Israel to be portrayed.

This selective outrage and selective allyship needs to stop. Most level-headed intellectuals do not want to see the very country they live in, and which provides the freedom to voice grievances without fear of being persecuted, go up in flames. The desire to improve the country for its citizens and fight for recognition doesn’t mean it needs to come at the expense of our security.

Framing the conflict as some “white oppressor” versus the “brown oppressed” is not only damaging to our history as a people, but intellectually dishonest, and pointing out how the conflict doesn’t easily fit into such a narrative is not propaganda.

Naftaly Yeffet is a mixed Yemeni (Teimani) and Polish Jew with dual Canadian/Israeli citizenship, living in Toronto. He has an affinity towards Yemeni Jewish history and Israel, due to his upbringing, and served in the IDF in a combat unit. His unique perspective can shine a light on an often forgotten about community that deserves far more attention than it currently gets.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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