Israeli Economist Fired After Attacking 'Ashkenazi Establishment'

Chief economist of Excellence Nessuah brokerage firm, Shlomo Maoz, fired 'in light of his crude and unfortunate remarks' over Israeli 'white society.'

The chief economist of the Excellence Nessuah brokerage firm was unceremoniously ousted on Wednesday after launching a blistering attack on "the Ashkenazi establishment" that included calling Bank Leumi "the whites' bank."

"Was society egalitarian in the 1950s?" economist Shlomo Maoz asked in a lecture on Wednesday at the Sapir Conference on a Different Politics in Sderot. "It was an egalitarian society for Ashkenazim. And even today, the chutzpah continues - for example, the nepotism on the Supreme Court, or in higher education. There was a time when to be promoted in the universities, you had to be close to someone from the ruling population group.

Eyal Toueg and Ofer Vaknin

Maoz went on to say, "That same white society dominates at Bank Leumi. Bank Leumi is the whites' bank. Only whites can be appointed to [senior] positions there."

Excellence said that "in light of his crude and unfortunate remarks, Maoz has been terminated from all his positions at our investment house. Excellence apologizes for and rejects these statements." At the conference, Maoz also said land policy had been discriminatory: There was downright "land theft by the kibbutzim and moshavim," he said. "They got water at low prices, even in Savyon," one of Israel's wealthiest towns.

Similarly, the national lottery (Mifal Hapayis) "pours money into unique schools in prestigious neighborhoods."

Maoz charged that he was rejected for a job at Leumi because the search committee "was all about Ashkenazi purity. I went to the Supreme Court - there, too, they were all Ashkenazi."

Referring to the fact that universities are heavily subsidized by the government while colleges are not - even though universities attract the top students, who tend to be from wealthier families - Maoz asked: "Who demonstrated on Rothschild Boulevard [during the summer's socioeconomic protests]? The students who pay NIS 12,000 a year. Is it fair that at the colleges, they pay NIS 40,000 a year? Students at the colleges didn't have time to demonstrate; they were working."

Part of the problem, he said, is that the Finance Ministry's budget department, which drafts the state budget, is also dominated by veteran Israelis of European descent, with "one token Russian [immigrant] and one Mizrahi," or Jew of Middle Eastern descent.

Neither the distress of the poor nor discrimination against Mizrahim elicit any reaction from "white Tel Aviv," Maoz charged. "Only when it hits the whites in Tel Aviv in the pocket do they start to scream."