Back in 1993, halfway through medical school I did a 7 week elective at a hospital in Israel. In the first few days I met lots of people and was very interested the various backgrounds. One of the things that has always amazed me about Israel is the wonderful ethnic diversity of the Jewish population. As opposed to the homogenized Oreo-cookie model that seems to predominate in most North American community, in Israel we come in all colours and sizes and I think that's a wonderful thing. We are not a race, we are a nationality and Israel's diversity proves this.
A few days in I met one nice young lady with a darker than average complexion and while talking I asked her where her family was from. She got an awkward look in her face and said "Morocco. Did you still want to talk with me?"
Being a naive North American, I had no idea was she was talking about. Morocco sounded exotic and from what I knew about it (culled mostly from the movie Casablanca) I thought it was quite neat to meet someone from there. It sure beat the usual "Yeah, where in Poland?" follow-up line.
So the next day I told a friend about the girl's reaction and asked why she had acted like that. "Oh," he said, "she knows a Morokai's proper place in society, that's all."
Disgusted is probably not quite strong enough to describe how I felt. Yes, I was aware that there were tensions between the religious and secular in Israel, along with all the difficulties the Russian influx had brought with them but I was really blindsided by the depth of hatred some in the Ashkenazic community felt for our Sephardic brothers.
Another friend of mine experienced something similar when he took a Moroccan bride. To their credit, most of his chiloni friends didn't care but most of his Chareidi friends stopped talking to him afterwards. What a shandeh! A good Ashkenazi boy marrying a Morokai? Never mind that his marriage has been bliss and produced five beautiful children. Such a p'gam.
And now, following along in the blogsphere as I do, I notice the regular flow of stories from the Israeli education system on how certain elements would like to keep their pure Ashkenazi children safe and undefiled from contact with the lower Sephardi lifeforms:
Israel - The ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov school in Immanuel is not taking measures against parents who are refusing to send their daughters to school in the wake of a High Court of Justice order to integrate the institution's separate classes for girls of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi origin.
About 150 students are enrolled in the school's two tracks: "Hasidic," for girls of Ashkenazi (European) origin, and "General," for those of Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) background.
In August the High Court ordered the removal of "every formal and material sign of this rampant discrimination," and the Education Ministry ordered a merger of the two tracks.
Since mid-December around 75 students, most of them of Ashkenazi descent, have been studying in private homes. In response, the ministry ordered the Immanuel Local Council to take legal action against the parents for violating the mandatory education law.
Several sources say that in a High Court session last week, it was disclosed that the Independent Education Center had instructed principal Rivka Stern not to take measures against the parents on the grounds that such action would be considered a violation of din moser - the religious prohibition against revealing information about a Jew to non-Jewish authorities.
Attorney Menahem Yanovsky, who represents the independent school system, confirmed that Stern would be exposed to din moser if she sent letters to the parents as part of the procedure for getting them to return their daughters to the school or to prosecute them.
"Even the judges told the Education Ministry attorney that the principal will not sign the letters," an education center official said yesterday. "We won't be policemen and the matter doesn't concern us. It's the parents' decision not to send their daughters" to the school.
What's the reason for the hatred? Jealousy of their superior cooking? Jealousy of their greater piety? Jealousy of their great Torah scholarship?
This is a selective application of halacha as bad as, if not worse than anything the Conservatives have ever dreamt up. Such concern over not being a moser or spreading loshon horo. What righteous tzidus. That the observance of these rules is in violation of the rule of dina d'malchusa dina and, even more importantly, in violation of the sin of spreading hatred amongst our people, is completely lost on these moral imbeciles. "We're racist," they are shouting, "and we're proud."
No, they're disgusting and their filth shouldn't be mistaken for yiras Shamayim.