Israeli series exposes raw wounds from ethnic Jewish divide

Source: Associated Press

By TIA GOLDENBERG

JERUSALEM (AP) — An electrifying new documentary series on the problematic integration of Middle Eastern Jews by Israel’s European founders in the 1950s has reopened old wounds of an ethnic divide within Judaism ahead of the country’s 70th anniversary festivities.

While Israel is marking the anniversary by highlighting its prosperity and successes, the country is still wrestling with divisions — and not only between Jews and Arabs. For Zionists who view the Jews as a people no less than a religion, the intra-Jewish rift is especially painful.

“The Ancestral Sin” has ignited outrage and disbelief by arguing that the immigrants were systematically marginalized by seemingly bigoted bureaucrats. The controversy has exposed just how raw sentiments are about the history of relations between Mizrahi Jews, from the Middle East and North Africa, and those from Europe, known as Ashkenazim.

“This was a state that directed their fate without including them at all, while deceiving them and imposing its policies on them,” said David Deri, the director. “To this day, society hasn’t really dealt very deeply with these people and places.”

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