We Are All Tribal

You call them 'ethnic' not because they're all from the same ethnic group, but because they're all from the 'wrong' ethnic group.

And here we have it, Yesh Atid's list of candidates for the Knesset so far: Yair Lapid, Shai Piron, Yael German, Meir Cohen, Jacob Perry and Ofer Shelach. It is, at least for the time being, to start with, an almost purely male, purely Ashkenazi list - much like Shas' list is Sephardi. With regard to Shas, they (the Ashkenazi men, of course) clamor, "Ugh, you're an ethnic-based list! Shame on you!" But when it comes to Yesh Atid, they're as quiet as sweet gefilte fish.

Why? Because those who support Rabbi Ovadia Yosef are Mizrahim, and therefore they are "ethnically oriented," while those who support Mr. Lapid are Ashkenazim and therefore "have the state's interests at heart." Because in the eyes of those Ashkenazi men, being Mizrahi means ethnicity and factionalism, while being Ashkenazi implies Israeliness and caring about the state's best interests.

But it is not only Lapid's list. Why? Think about it. Who are the three Meretz MKs? Nitzan Horowitz, Ilan Gilon and Zahava Gal-On - not a single Kahlon. Here you have another ethnically based party, a Shas for pure Ashkenazim. Of course, it wouldn't occur to anyone to say that Meretz is an ethnically based party, even though, just as with Shas, all the MKs are from the same ethnic background - even though there isn't a single person from another ethnic group.

Why? Because all of them are Ashkenazim, and therefore Meretz is supposedly an Israeli and state-oriented party, while in Shas there are only Mizrahim, and that immediately makes them sectoral and ethnic, right? The Ashkenazim represent the state, the Mizrahim represent their community, and the Arabs represent "their own population." That's just how things are.

And how about Yisrael Beiteinu before its joint ticket with Likud? Of its 14 (Jewish ) MKs, 13 are Ashkenazim and only one is Mizrahi. No one is pouncing on them and shouting that they are an ethnically oriented party and that, Ugh! They should be ashamed of themselves! Because on the face of it, they are not ethnic. They are Ashkenazim, and Ashkenazim are not ethnically oriented. They care about state interests. Only Mizrahim are tribal. You see?

But you're saying, no, it's not because they're Ashkenazim, it's because with them, with Lieberman, there's at least one Mizrahi woman, while with Shas there's not a single Ashkenazi, and all - all! - of them are Mizrahim. Because of that they are ethnically oriented but Yisrael Beiteinu isn't. Get it?

Okay, good. So if there were just one Ashkenazi in Shas - let's say "Rabbi Amsalemovitch" - then would they no longer be an ethnic party in your eyes? Would you stop calling them ethnic if there were one righteous Ashkenazi man? After all, then you would say what you never did about Yisrael Beiteinu - that one white Ashkenazi fig leaf doesn't cover their ethnicity, right? That's for sure. You call them "ethnic" not because they're all from the same ethnic group, but because they're all from the "wrong" ethnic group.

And how about the Likud? Most of its voters, certainly two thirds of them, are Mizrahim, while most of its elected representatives, certainly two thirds of them, and certainly the heads of the party over the generations, are Ashkenazim, sons of Ashkenazim. So the Likud in fact is also an ethnically oriented party.

And how about the government? Out of some 30 (who can count them? ) ministers, only six are Mizrahim, while the remainder are Ashkenazim. So here you have it, even the government of Israel is Ashkenazi-oriented, with a few Mizrahi fig leaves.

And, by the way, even Shas, whose MKs are indeed all Mizrahim, has an ideology and dress code that is totally Lithuanian - that is to say, perfectly Ashkenazi. Thus it is that all Israelis are in fact ethnic, but all are Ashkenazim, so there's no need to worry.