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April 17, 1987 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-04-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NIBBLES & NUTS

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Remember that SPECIAL PERSON
with a SPECIAL treat.

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crraltyA.
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A vailable

Mildred Winston
Delivery ti

ORCHARD MALL • EVERGREEN PLAZA

Orchard Lk. Rd. N. of Maple 12 Mile & Evergreen

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West Bloomfield

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Southfield

My •ashion

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What InfluenceS!.It
1 like to look my ttitg . a. ,- an.. exercise-inStretc
Why I Shop on The Boardwalk -

-

"The Bordt_iialk- offers convenience and
versatility for niy kids and

i v.'

dMi lly

Orchard Lake Road --- South of Maple_
West Bloomfield

24

Friday, April 17, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Sephardi Revolution

Continued from preceding page

In fact, two years after taking office,
Menachem Begin signed a pace treaty
with Egypt — Israel's first (and, so far,
only) such pact with an Arab state.
Nevertheless, the advent of Sephardi
political power has led, consciously or not,
to an inexorable shift to the right in both
of Israel's major power blocs. The Sephar-
dim, and their political predilections, are
now a permanent and potent factor in the
shaping of party platforms.
For, despite the peace treaty with Egypt,
perceptions of Sephardi political
preferences have not radically altered. In-
deed, these perceptions have been rein-
forced by opinion polls, which consistent-
ly show Sephardi hawkishness in foreign
affairs and conservatism at home.
The polls, however, are inadequate
barometers of the revolution taking place
within the extraordinarily diverse Sephardi
communities — their growing affluence
and self-confidence, their acuity in grasp-
ing the techniques and potential of the
democratic system, and their growing
representation in all Israel's political
parties, which have raced to embrace Seph-
ardi leaders.
Certainly the most visible is David Levy,
but he is not alone. Among the other
Sephardi cabinet ministers are the Finance
Minister, Moshe Nissim, the Social Affairs
Minister, Moshe Katsav, and the Speaker
of the Knesset (parliament), Shlomo Hillel,
who was born in Iraq and is a veteran
Labour Party figure.
Meanwhile, a new generation of younger
Sephardi politicians, many of them Israeli-
born, shows every sign of perfect self-
confidence and fluency with the democ-
ratic system. Most have earned their spurs
at grass-roots local council level, taking
control of development towns and regional
councils and then moving into the national
arena.
They represent almost the full spectrum
of ideological opinion from the left (though
rarely the far-left) to the religious and ultra-
nationalist right, and they are posing a
direct challenge to the idea of a permanent,
ultra-right, monolithic ethnic vote.
Two recently formed, and still marginal,
groups of Sephardi intellectuals are also
helping to change the simplistic view of
monolithic, hard-line Sephardi political
opinions.
Both groups — "The Eastern Front" and
"East for Peace" are working for Arab-
Jewish dialogue and insist that the
Sephardim, far from being an obstacle to
a Middle East peace settlement, can pro-
vide the bridge between Israel and its Arab
neighbours.
No one in Israel is seriously suggesting
that the Sephardim are about to embrace
the liberal-left, mainly Ashkenazi "peace
camp." Indeed, it is likely that in the next
elections, Jews from Morocco will again
form the backbone of Likud support.
But as thousands of young Sephardim

Many Sephardim suffered deprivations in their
original Arab homelands and are less inclined toward
territorial compromise.

enter the middle classes and lose their
parents' keen sense of social and cultural
disadvantage, the prism through which
they perceive the world around them is
likely to be not so very different from that
of their Ashkenazi neighbours.
Viewed from the gloomy prognostica-
tions of the early '60s, the past two
decades have witnessed steady progress
towards assimilation.
The Sephardim can point to a solid
record of achievement in every sector of
Israeli society. Both the head of the power-
ful Histadrut trade union federation,
Yisrael Kessar, and the chief of staff of the
Israel Defence Forces, General Moshe Levy
— not positions of tokensim in Israel —
have their origins in Iraq.
The Sephardi youngster no longer has to
look to Ashkenazim for role models: the
glamorous singer on the television screen,
the football hero, the high-tech entre-
preneur, is as likely to be a generation away
from Morocco or Yemen as he is himself.
And, given that one-third of all Israeli
marriages are "mixed" Ashkenazi-Seph-
ardi, the very basis of the debate is
gradually disappearing.
The Sephardim, however, are still a
distinct, identifiable group with a political
agenda that does not always correspond
with that of the more privileged Ash-
kenazim.
A very high proportion of prison in-
mates, school drop-outs, social-welfare
cases and the unemployed are from the
ranks of the "Second Israel." An Ashken-
azi child is still four times more likely to
go to university than his Sephardi class-
mate.
These self-evident truths are not lost on
David Levy, who can be expected to exploit
them vigorously in his forthcoming drive
to power. ❑

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