The webinar analyzes the failure of Israel’s Ashkenazi (Jewish, of European, Yiddish-speaking origin) peace movement (socialist- post- and anti-Zionist) to work within the context of Middle East demographics, cultures, and histories and, alternately, the inabilities of Mizrahi (Oriental) activism to weave itself into the fabric of the Arab world. Although the Ashkenazi elites in Israel are known for their peace activism and human rights work, from the Mizrahi perspective their critique and activism are limited, if not counterproductive. Ashkenazi feminists in Israel have strategically chosen to focus on justice for Palestine--a well-funded agenda that enables them to avoid addressing the community-based concerns of the disenfranchised Mizrahim. Mizrahi communities, however, silence their own feminists as these activists attempt to challenge the regime or engage in discourse on Palestine. Despite historical changes, the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi rift is a racialized formation so resilient it manages to sustain itself through challenges rather than remain a frozen dichotomy and impacts any solution of the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Smadar Lavie holds the Spatz Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies at the Department of Anthropology, Dalhousie University. She is a long-term visiting scholar at the U. C. Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Department and a visiting professor at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork. Lavie spent nine years as tenured Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Davis. Lavie is the author of The Poetics of Military Occupation (UC Press 1990), receiving the Honorable Mention of the Victor Turner Award for Ethnographic Writing, and co-editor of Creativity/Anthropology (Cornell 1993) and Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity (Duke 1996). The 1st edition of her recent book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel (Nebraska 2018) received the 2015 Honorable Mention of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies