The Israeli Police State

Last night, a couple dozens of Border Police and city police raided a closed cafe is South Tel Aviv, where one of the owners and an employee were closing down the kitchen and register. Police forced their way into the business, and attacked and manhandled the proprietor, Orly Chen. Both of the women were arrested. The barrista was released this morning, Chen is still in interrogation.

OrlyChenArrestCafe Alby

Apparently, a city inspector reported that Alby, the cafe, was open (though it was clearly locked) because a group of “Women in Yellow” (a grassroots group that has organized to patrol the increasingly violent streets of South Tel Aviv, which the police generally avoid and have become particularly dangerous to women) had wrapped up their patrol in front of the closed cafe.

Women In Yellow

One of the founders of the Women in Yellow is activist Ortal Ben Dayan. And this is where the story begins to make sense: About 1-2 weeks ago, Ben Dayan confronted a Border Police officer who was being verbally abusive to a Palestinian family sitting at the cafe. The officer proceeded to verbally abuse Ben Dayan, and demanded she provide identification. Under Israeli law, citizens have the right to refuse to identify themselves unless they are being detained under suspicion of a crime (and I believe they need to be informed what the crime is). Ben Dayan was clearly not under suspicion, and had no need to identify. The police officer then placed her under arrest, claiming she had “offended a public official”. After a night in jail and some legal ludicrousness, Ben Dayan was found to not be in violation of any law and was released. The officer who arrested her, on the other hand, was surprisingly not let off so easily – after extremely racist statements were found on his Facebook profile, he was dismissed from service.

Read more here – http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.541537

(I don’t like to link to Ha’aretz, which is a supposedly progressive newspaper that supports rapists, and has recently launched a pornographic ad campaign objectifying women, and also gates their content to paid subscribers – but I’m making an exception here since it is difficult to find reports on these things in English. Hopefully, you’ll reach the non-paid content.)

So, going back to the raid on Alby: If for the sake of argument we accept the inspector’s assertion that the cafe was open – why did an entire caravan of police cars and a couple dozen police show up? Why did the BORDER POLICE rather than the city police take the lead on the situation? This was clearly not a run-of-the-mill business infraction situation. It appears that the association between Alby and the incident with Ben Dayan made it a target (the cafe is a regular hangout for queer and political activist groups, and Ben Dayan runs her own vintage shop next door).

But clearly even the original assertion is completely fabricated. When police arrived the business was locked up, and they threatened Chen that if she did not open up, they would break the glass storefront.

Here are two videos showing the police conduct (including where an officer clearly goes to where Chen is standing behind the counter and grabs her. He apparently claimed she attacked him). The whole time Chen is asking – what am I being arrested for? and receiving no answer. At one point as she is being pushed into the patrol car, the officer near her says “the arresting officer informed you what for”. The video is uncut from the arrest to that point – and at no time is Chen informed what the arrest is for.

See video of Chen’s arrest here:

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As I’m writing this report (Aug 27, late morning Jerusalem time), I have been informed that under a police order the cafe has been shut down for 30 days, for supposed safety violations. As you can see below, every single possible violation has been marked on the form (how likely is that?). Even though I already knew I was living in a state where there is minimal oversight of police and minimal respect for human rights, Israel likes to maintain the *appearance* of propriety, and I really didn’t know that the police could just take away a business’ right to exist with no court approval or intervention.

Update ~ noon Jerusalem time: City and Riot police arrive at Alby to harass customers and onlookers, illegally demanding they provide picture ID and leave the premises.

Update ~2pm Jerusalem time: Police are trying to remove equipment from the cafe. Activists preventing it. 

Update ~3pm Jerusalem time: Having faced resistance from the activists and customers, the Riot Police returned with a warrant to remove the business’ computer, under suspicion of “agitation”. How military dictatorship is that? Somewhat Kafkaesque? People are agitated that the business owner is being detained without charge and her business targeted for closure, which retroactively enables the police to seize the cafe’s computer for… agitation? 

Activists vowing to block them from carrying this out indefinitely. Also, a protest rally is planned this evening in front of the South Tel Aviv police station. If anyone reading this is in the vicinity of Tel Aviv please come (or at least distribute the event). 

Incidentally, Alby is one of the few queer-friendly (and queer-owned) businesses in Tel Aviv, which is virtually the only queer-friendly place in Israel. I invite anyone who is interested in exposing the true face of Israel in the face of the extreme pinkwashing of the Israeli government and allies organizations worldwide to share this and other stories. I encourage BDS activists to us this too: While for some people (like the Tom Jones representatives on Facebook) Islamophobia and therefore abuse of Palestinians may be palatable, the mindset that allows that abuse affects us all, and until we are all safe, no one is safe. And anti-BDS voices certainly use the supposed queer-friendliness of Israeli authorities as a (very poor) counter argument to Palestinian solidarity.

The police closure order on Alby:

Copies of the licenses supposedly lacking: 

Electrical Inspection

Business License

Gas Inspection

Some other famous instances of police brutality :

Where All Arabs Are Terrorists

Trigger warning for extreme racism and violence. I really wish this was in English. I’ve translated parts of this below, but there are some things that no amount of translation will ever get across. This is a screenshot from a Facebook page in Hebrew, called “Death to all Terrorists”. Terrorists, apparently, are any and all Arabs.

These are responses to an image of dozens of bodies of dead Syrians in body bags. This page (and others) have been publishing various images of victims of the violence in Syria, including children. These responses are typical.

Earlier today and yesterday, I was involved in yet another discussion on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions upon Israel, a movement calling for cultural boycotts on Israel until they comply with International law regarding treatment of Palestinians and the occupation of Palestinian people and territories). A repeated theme in this discussion is Jews (not necessarily Israelis) who post such statements as “Dear [name of musician], Israel is a peace-seeking nation, and Jews are peace-seeking people! We never start wars, we respect people, we are the victims!” and so on and so forth.

I really want to expose the true mindset in Israel. It is NOT peaceful or peace-seeking. Naftali Bennet, Israel’s Minister of Commerce, recently admitted to killing an unspecified number of Arabs, for unspecified reasons, and declared that is just fine. The people in this post, are not some fringe group. These are regular Israelis, and what they have written here – translated below – are things I hear every day. Everywhere I go. Read through, if you can stomach it, and judge for yourselves.

  • Don’t worry about the children, they’d just grow up to be terrorists anyway.
  • Beautiful picture!
  • LOLOL what a pleasure! And I’m not a racist, just a [sports team] fan! Buh-bye!
  • What a waste of good body bags.
  • Here’s to more in the ditch, amen.
  • Hoping for more, and more!
  • Pour acid on them, and then burn B’Tzelem (a human rights org) along with them
  • Death to them all, happy day
  • Great to wake up to good news in the morning!
  • Only 1000… Hoping for more.
  • Not enough
  • Praise God forever!
  • Pleasure :)
  • As Naftali Bennet said, “Terrorists must be killed”. Period.
  • The creator be praised!
  • More
  • God willing, all the Arabs will die, amen.
  • More, with God’s help.
  • LOL, you all are making me laugh.
  • God willing, so it shall be, every day
  • [image, parodying Arabic phrasing] what a beautiful sight!
  • More, and more
  • I’m lighting the grill, who’s joining me? It isn’t every day 1000 whores die
  • Let’s party! Who’ll bring the sweets? I’ll bring chips.
  • Oh no, what a tragedy!…. A thousand is too few!
  • Assad is the best!
  • So much fun to see this picture! Amen that this happens again and they all die! Amen!
  • Only 1000? Can’t we add some zeros to that?
  • My son is only four, and he passed by the computer so I quickly closed the picture, but he glimpsed it and asked me, “What’s that? Rats?” LOLOL He pretty much got it right.
  • Too bad there weren’t more.
  • So wonderful, God willing we’ll see beautiful images like this every day.
  • Do the math – how many virgins required?

Now repeat this by thousands of Facebook accounts, groups, cafes, buses, homes, army bases, schools, workplaces…. This is normal Israel, when it isn’t being pinkwashed, whitewashed, propagandized, and spinned.

Fuck Your Good Intentions

Good intentions. I’m sick to death of good intentions.

Every time someone comes into one of the groups or blogs I manage, says something racist or sexist or transphobic or [fill in oppressive BS here], and they get called out on it, not only do I end up getting the whole offended “I’m the victim here” song and dance (“You are oppressing me by nullifying my right to express an opinion” “You are being violent to me by excoriating me in the group” “You are being a dictator!! [yeah, I'm Stalin])… Not only all that, but then come in the chorus of apologists: “He didn’t *mean* to offend anyone, he meant well!”. Oh, I guess the hurt he caused is now erased, then.

So here is what I have to say about good intentions: FUCK GOOD INTENTIONS.

If you have “good intentions” all that means is one or more of the following:

  1. You are trying to make yourself feel good by doing some patronizing BS. You don’t actually “see” the group you are thereby helping oppressing, you are actually maintaining the existing order (which is patriarchal, hierarchical, and based on unequal power relationships). You are probably white knighting, cookie seeking or mansplaining. Or just plain being a liberal asshat.
  2. You are being selfish and/or self-centered. We might try to follow the golden rule (treat other as we would want to be treated) or walk a mile in their shoes, or some other cliche on how to act towards others… But really – each of us thinks differently and processes information differently and has our own filter for actions and words. Especially if there are differences of gender, race, class… You don’t get points for enforcing your own ideas upon others, especially if you’re going to get offended when they don’t appreciate your take on things like you wanted them to.
  3. You are defining for others what is good, what is harm… If that isn’t oppressive, what is? If you’re trying to be an ally, find out what the group you’re allying yourself wants, for fuck’s sake. Find out what their pain points are. Don’t assume things. Don’t go barging in there with your good or bad baggage. Their activism is theirs, and you get to help. IF they want you to. HOW they want you to.
  4. You haven’t done your homework. Activism is first and foremost about awareness. You don’t go stomping in with your newly budding understanding of something, and spray it all over the place. Have you learned what the group is about? Does it have any rules or conventions you should be aware of? Do members of the group want to continually educate newbies — or are they trying to get their own stuff done? There are plenty of resources to learn from on pretty much any issue, and in any case I’m sure the group you’re trying to work with would appreciate your asking where you can learn – and therefore help – rather than assuming you already know more than you do, and gracing them with your ignorance. No excuse for stomping. Even if you’re dancing to make your cat happy, if you step on her, ya know, she’s gonna yowl. Maybe even scratch.

So remember:
RESULTS MATTER MORE THAN INTENTIONS, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

Israeli Ministry of Tourism Presents: Militarism, Sexism Galore

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism presents a new and highly militaristic, sexist and simply obnoxious campaign for bringing more tourists into the Jewish-Democratic State of Israel, to experience the lush and beauty of Israeli apartheid.

One should wonder who are the tourists that would be persuaded to visit a state that’s so highly militarized, racist and sexist? A state that does not abide by its obligations under international law and who violates the most basic human rights for non-Jews? A state whose most liberal city, Tel-Aviv, boasts at having the highest percentage of military commanders in their municipality’s ad campaign, along with boasting the 92% draft rate of its high school graduates who serve in the army (aka ITF, IOF or IDF). A state whose vast majority is proud of holding ethnic-supremacist ideals, or at the very least think it is ok.

Please choose to stand by the basic rights of Palestinians and insist on their freedom, justice and equality in this land. For more information:http://www.bdsmovement.net/

Doing propaganda:

Noa Tishby – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0864332/

Gilat Ankori – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0030184/

Sources:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNVHY49TqWc
http://kol1mevie1.org.il/
http://www.mako.co.il/travel-visit-israel
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/survey-most-israeli-jews-would-support-a…
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/apartheid-without-shame-or-guilt.premium…
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/cool-tel-aviv-proudly-boasts…

From: Israeli Ministry of Tourism presents: militarism, sexism galore – YouTube.

Israels politics of discrimination – Israel News

Israels politics of discrimination – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper.

Israel’s politics of discrimination

How an informal process of decision making keeps Ashkenazi men at the top, while women, Arabs and Mizrahim are denied their fair share of power and resources.

By Eva Illouz Apr.25, 2012 | 4:58 PM  10
Illouz - Alon Ron - April 27, 2012
Meeting of university heads, 2008: One woman, Prof. Rivka Carmi, third from right, no Arabs.Photo by Alon Ron
THIS STORY IS BY

Discrimination is the sophisticated, less blunt, distant cousin of racism. It has the same effects as racism − ranking people by birth − without, necessarily, the same intentions, which is why discrimination is mostly and most often an invisible mechanism. This is also the reason why some legal provisions suggest evaluating discrimination on the basis of facts. But facts alone do not scrutinize the mindset of people working in organizations. If, for example, women represent 50 percent of the population, Arabs and Mizrahim constitute 60 percent of the population and if all three groups have almost never been represented among the rectors, presidents and deans, or been recipients of scientific awards of Israeli universities, we need not enter the minds of the people who make these decisions to suspect discrimination. The proof is in the famous pudding.

What is interesting − sociologically − about discrimination is that it produces racist or sexist effects without being necessarily connected to racist beliefs, at least not explicit ones. Universities and many cultural institutions are particularly good places to examine this phenomenon because they are full of liberal, well-intentioned, broad-minded people who want to promote equality, yet fail at it. Therefore, the question of how places full of liberal and broad-minded people end up being full of Ashkenazi men is puzzling. Here, gender and ethnicity should be viewed in similar terms, because mechanisms of exclusion in both cases are often similar ‏(with the proviso that Ashkenazi women are doing much better in Ashkenazi cultural institutions than Mizrahim and Arab men or women). Even if women and Mizrahim constitute large groups, each of these groups – despite their increasing visibility and presence in Israeli society – are still “minorities,” because historically they have been deprived of rights, privileges and resources that men have enjoyed. ‏(For example, when you understand the importance of the army for networking in many Israeli institutions, you realize why women and Arabs have been kept outside many centers of power.‏) In fact, we may go further: the “majority” that now controls so many institutions is largely made up of Ashkenazis ‏(among them a majority of men‏), and close to 60 per cent ‏(Arabs and Mizrahim‏) are the minorities left outside many centers of power. The fact that this situation has improved over time should not prevent us from asking why it is not improving faster.

Cultural capital

Inbal Bitton ‏(a fictional name‏) was born and raised in Kiryat Shmona. She went to a very mediocre school, where she learned a lot about Jewish holidays, the Holocaust, Zionism and the Torah, but very little about Athenian democracy, the difference between idealism and materialism in philosophy, the comparative study of the rationality at work in the Guide for the Perplexed and Arab civilization’s contribution to modern sciences. Still, thanks to her hard work, she studied at university, earned a degree in social work and geography, and now works in the urban planning department in the municipality of a large Israeli city. She is hard-working, meticulous, intelligent, and after a few years has become very competent at her job.

One day, she arrives at a meeting with the director of an international philanthropic organization who wants to contribute to the construction of public projects in Israel. In addition to the director, two other men are present; one grew up in Rehavia, the other in Haifa. The meeting gets off to a good start: The three men tell each other army jokes and learn that they have mutual acquaintances among the officers. The meeting progresses and some important decisions are made. At the end of the meeting, the three men stay on to chat; Inbal feels a bit of an outsider, so she politely leaves. During that final informal chat, the director of the philanthropic organization learns that he shares musical tastes with one of the other men, and that they both have a subscription to the Israeli Opera. One week later, the director of that same large philanthropic organization is asked by the Minister of Infrastructure to recommend someone for a prestigious position at his ministry that requires a great deal of experience in urban planning. Who do you think he will remember from the meeting held a week ago?

This fictional, yet realistic, anecdote serves to illustrate many phenomena all at once: Men do not exclude this woman because she is a woman, but because they can bond naturally − they all shared the same military humor, learned in the barracks. They do not exclude her because she is Mizrahi, but rather because all three of them grew up in similar Ashkenazi neighborhoods and could recognize in each other a common and similar style. In no way did they hold the a priori racist opinion that Mizrahim or people who grew up in Kiryat Shmona are less worthy than people who grew up in large urban centers. They simply inferred from her clothes, accent perhaps, last name, and her discomfort that she is not “sophisticated,” “representative” or “well-groomed.” Finally, in evaluating her style, the men confused two things: how competent she is at her job, and her “cultural capital” – how much high culture she knows and displays. They viewed cultural knowledge or capital as a sign of professional competence, which it is not.

The one who got the phone call was the one who also had a subscription to the opera. He got the call not because he was more competent in urban planning, but because he had the same upbringing, the same army experiences, the same way of speaking, the same manners, the same physical appearance, and the same musical taste as the one who called him. ‏(It also turns out that this style is congruent in general with the style of many who make important decisions‏.) This is, in a nutshell, the story of discrimination.

This anecdote says something important: much discrimination does not feel like discrimination at all; in fact, most of the time it feels like something else. It feels like the trust and respect we have for some and not for others; it feels like the bonds of camaraderie we create with others through the army, the university, the kibbutz, the youth group or the tennis club. Mostly it feels like an honest, objective evaluation of someone else’s competence and personality.

The reason why discrimination is so hard to fight, even in ourselves, is that it is very hard to identify because it happens behind our backs, so to speak − it almost always comes in the form of something else, like trusting someone from our group, or evaluating “objectively” someone as more competent or sophisticated, or preventing a “difficult” person from being promoted. In fact, quite often discrimination comes subtly packaged with qualities that many people value − such as being loyal to old friends; recognizing in others what makes us feel comfortable and on familiar terrain; promoting only “nice people,” those who do not question the privileges and entitlements we have. In the example above, discrimination is not a nasty and brutal way to exclude. It feels, and in some ways it is, natural and friendly. Nothing could be more natural than to be friendly to those who are like us and gentle to us.

Let me thus make a blunt sociological statement: What makes us feel good as members of a group usually plays out very badly in the overall politics of equality. Group cohesion does not go along with a capacity to integrate people who differ. A truly meritocratic society cannot be based on groups, because groups demand first and foremost loyalty, and loyalty is not an egalitarian or meritocratic virtue.
Nor does discrimination mean that we dislike members of minority groups ‏(this is where it differs from racism‏). In fact, women are liked so much that they are regularly discriminated against through courtship and sexual harassment in the workplace. Discrimination is a set of invisible strategies, the effect of which is to exclude minorities from available resources. Discrimination is about sharing power, not about our capacity to have women or Mizrahim or Arabs as friends, as lovers, or as our domestic workers. We can love Mizrahi women and discriminate against them in the workplace. The question of discrimination arises only when a man and a woman, a Mizrahi and an Ashkenazi, an Arab and a Jew, a native and a foreigner, are competing for the same resources, such as power, money, prestige, leadership.

How egalitarian are we?

To what extent a society allows its minorities to truly compete for resources with its majority is the true measure of how egalitarian it is. In modern democracies, education is the main channel for minorities to achieve social mobility. Therefore, education is a very important resource. For this reason, let us examine the position of women, Arabs and Mizrahim ‏(WAM‏) inside the institutions of the university. If you ask yourself why such cultural institutions as the university matter ‏(beyond the fact that this is the one I am most familiar with‏), it is for four reasons: 1‏) This institution is supposed to be entirely based on merit and merit alone; 2‏) as a public institution, it should be exemplary of values the entire society holds dear; 3‏) in a society based on educational mobility ‏(mobility through education‏), cultural leadership indicates a deeper form of social integration than that achieved through money and market mechanisms; and 4‏) because the university is by and large a well-managed organization, its failures are instructive of larger and more general processes.

Let me thus ask a simple question: Who sits on the faculty of Israeli universities? Prof. Nina Toren, who did pioneering research on this topic at the Hebrew University, found that in 2008, the academic staff of Israeli universities could be divided into three groups: 90 percent Ashkenazim; 9 percent Mizrahim ‏(with less than 2 percent Mizrahi women‏); 1 percent Arabs. Women constituted 27 percent of the entire academic body. This composition indicates that a structural discrimination exists, demonstrating that society is incapable of bringing representatives of 60 percent of its population ‏(Mizrahim and Arabs combined‏) into its universities as lecturers. Instead, most of the power is concentrated in the hands of Ashkenazi men.

These findings also suggest that ethnic discrimination is deeper and vaster than gender discrimination. Please note: Structural discrimination is not an intention to discriminate. It is de facto discrimination. But if this were the only explanation, one would expect that once women, Arabs and Mizrahim entered the gates of the university, they would be proportionately represented in the university leadership. Yet this is far from being the case. Proof that their exclusion is not “only” the result of structural flaws in the education system, but also stems from attitudes and biases actively present in the university, can be found in the following fact: If we make a very rough estimate of all the WAM across all Israeli universities who are already inside the university, all three groups would constitute 36 percent of the total number of lecturers. And yet, all together, they probably do not represent even 5 percent of the heads of academic institutions, people in significant positions of power and prestige in universities or research institutes, presidents of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Israel Science Foundation, or national scientific committees. And this has been the case for many decades.
In the faculties of humanities and social sciences of many Israeli universities, even a middle-rank management position, like that of dean, has never been filled by a Mizrahi or an Arab, and almost never by a woman. The middle-rank position of director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University has never been filled by a woman, a Mizrahi or an Arab. And on, and on, and on. It is difficult to imagine that in 60 years, all these institutions did not find one single woman, one single Mizrahi, one single Arab among those who were already inside the university, who was worthy of filling these relatively middle-rank positions, let alone the high-ranking ones. This clearly indicates that an informal process of decision making keeps WAM outside power and away from resources.

Think about this: WAM represent approximately 80 percent of the population, yet they do not represent even 5 percent of our academic elites. WAM are excluded not by any formal or concerted decision, but by a series of informal evaluations that concern either their professional competence or their personality. Universities and many cultural institutions make a particularly fertile terrain for this precisely because being a leader in these institutions is based on informal evaluations by others. ‏(This is why Mizrahim enter the business sector in droves, because success there is established by tangible performance, rather than informal evaluation by a group of Ashkenazi peers.) As Dr. Yofi Tirosh, a leading scholar of discrimination at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, put it in a conversation for this article, the politics of discrimination is most visible in the politics of “representativeness” – that is, those chosen and perceived as “representative of the institution.” It is in the process of choosing someone who will represent the entire body that biases are widely used. The question is thus: How do such politics of representativeness operate on the ground?

Minorities’ dilemma

If you build a country by viewing Arabs and Mizrahim as culturally inferior, it is not difficult to understand how conditions are created for the formation of stereotypes of Arabs and Mizrahim as “not cultured, sophisticated or educated enough.” Stereotypes are not just routine associations of certain groups with specific attributes; they are powerful tools of social control. Stereotypes create expectations that some groups are fit or “unfit” for certain positions or activities.

Here is an example: In my opinion, one of the most brilliant minds in the Israeli public sphere today is an Arab man, Sayed Kashua. But Sayed Kashua has been able to succeed because he does not threaten anyone’s position in that field. He is an Arab man who writes about the relationships between Arabs and Jews. This is acceptable to a society based on Jewish control. If, however, Sayed Kashua had wanted to do research on modern Jewish history ‏(in the same way as Jews study the history of Islam or Christianity‏), it is a safe bet that things would have been more difficult for him. Why? Not because he would have had more power as a researcher of Jewish history, but because he would have been stepping out of a stereotype − that an Arab man can be a specialist only on Arab issues.

The point about stereotypes is that they create expectations about the kind and amount of territory a member of a minority is allowed to possess. As tools of social control, stereotypes also create expectations about who has the right to speak authoritatively to others. Stereotypes make the power of some seem natural and self-evident, while associating minorities with leadership and power seems much less natural. ‏(See, for example, all the interest generated by Prof. Rivka Carmi, president of Ben-Gurion University, precisely because it is very unusual for a woman to be president of an academic institution.‏) How comfortable do you think faculty members of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University or the Weizmann Institute would be in choosing as their rector or president a Mizrahi man or an Arab woman?

An Ashkenazi man has the greatest sense of entitlement to lead and represent others, which is why it goes unnoticed when he does so. ‏(After Ashkenazi men, next in line in the hierarchy of entitlement are Ashkenazi women, then Mizrahim, and Arabs at the bottom − with a woman always having an inferior status to a man in any group.) More specifically, members of minorities are faced with the following dilemma, which has been documented in numerous experiments conducted by social psychologists: conforming to the image others have of them and being perceived as weak, or being perceived as competent and not being liked. This is undoubtedly the most common dilemma faced by minorities in the workplace.

One famous experiment conducted by Prof. Laurie Rudman from Rutgers University runs like this: You give two different groups of people ‏(composed of both men and women‏) the exact same story, with only one difference. One group reads a story with a male protagonist, while the other reads the same story with a female one. The story describes a highly successful professional. You then ask the people who read the story to evaluate the successful man or woman on a scale of competence ‏(how good at his/her job is s/he?‏) and likability ‏(how nice/caring do you think this person is?‏). The results are striking: Twenty years ago, the woman would have been rated as far less competent than the man; but today she is rated as equally competent ‏(feminism managed to change stereotypes about competence‏).

However, though she was found to be as competent as the man, she was also found to be significantly less likable, both by men and women. That is, the groups evaluating the protagonist − a highly successful professional − have exactly the same information about the man and the woman, yet the successful woman is deemed much less likable than the man.

Laurie Rudman ‏(and many other researchers‏) have conducted many experiments centering on this theme and found overwhelming evidence that women pay a heavy price for being perceived as powerful and competent, self-confident, assertive and self-reliant. When they rank high on competence, they are far more likely to rank low on what we expect them to be – namely, caring and group-oriented. Even though the experiment was done with women, we may hypothesize that it is true for other minorities as well. Minorities working in many organizations are confronted with the same dilemma of being either liked or viewed as competent. If they are liked, their likability comes from the fact that they correspond to the stereotype that associates them with weakness; when they deviate from the stereotype, they are perceived as boastful, lacking in a communal orientation to others, uncaring. In both cases − ranking low in competence or low in likability − they are not perceived as “representative” of the institution.

Let me now give you examples I have witnessed personally in many Israeli universities, in which the competence or likability of a member of a minority is evaluated in such a way that they end up being seen as unworthy to represent the institution ‏(examples come from all Israeli universities, which will make it impossible to identify the university or the characters involved‏).

Evaluating competence

1‏) “Moroccan accent”: A highly respected academic working in an Israeli university, an Ashkenazi male, tells me in a conversation that even though he knows he is being racist, he cannot take seriously a colleague of his, another professor, because of his “thick Moroccan accent.” Arabs’ speech is also heavily accented, and this accent is often felt to be unrepresentative of the group. People and the institution they work in cannot feel represented adequately by someone speaking with an accent. Ashkenazis, it should be said, have no less an accent than Mizrahim, but theirs is “unmarked” − it is not heard, precisely because Ashkenazis have established the norm of speech, which in turn becomes neutral.

2‏) “He’s so cute”: In an entirely different setting with entirely different characters, an Ashkenazi female listens to a colleague of hers who is delivering a scientific paper in a heavy Moroccan accent. She looks at him, shakes her head, and says ‏(they are both well past their 40s‏), “He is so cute, he is so cute, ‏(hamoud‏).” She did not mean she found him sexy; she meant he was so unthreatening that she found in him the attributes of a child. It is difficult to imagine her using this word for a male who projects authority and power. When the word hamoud, “cute,” is said to and of women in the workplace, it is often viewed as an insult, because cuteness is an attribute of children, which defuses the capacity to display power.

3‏) “Her field is too narrow”: Social hierarchy is reflected in the hierarchy of scientific fields. Mathematics, perhaps the scientific field with the highest prestige, has almost no women, Arabs or Mizrahim in it. Arabs and Mizrahim are absent from classics and medieval history, both fields which are far more valued than the more “political” fields that attract WAM. WAM tend to enter fields that are ranked lower in intellectual prestige, such as education, social work, sociology, political science or international relations. It is not surprising to find that there are far fewer recipients of scientific awards and large grants in the latter fields than the former.

The hierarchy of scientific fields reflects social hierarchy and is an indirect way of keeping resources in the same place. This social hierarchy also exists within fields. For example, a woman who studies “the experience of Mizrahi women in synagogues” is likely to be perceived as dealing with a narrower topic than a man studying “Kantian Rationality in the writings of Rabbi Soloveitchik” The first topic is perceived as “lower” and more narrow in the hierarchy of topics, because of its clearer association with a minority group.

4‏) “He is so cultured”: A large number of sociologists have claimed that cultural competence − the knowledge of “high,” European culture one is able to display − is often associated with greater status or prestige in cultural organizations. It therefore contributes to the informal ranking of people inside these organizations – not according to expertise in their topic, but according to their capacity to display the right membership in a specific social/ethnic class. Cultural competence is not only knowledge of high culture, but also of a specific way of speaking and expertise in a variety of informal domains, such as wine-tasting, patronizing operas and concert halls, developing a gourmet taste and cooking culture, traveling far and wide.

Sociologists have shown that high culture is often used not as a way to extend wisdom and cultivate aesthetics, but rather to display prestige, which is then used informally to increase one’s status inside an organization. Conversely, those who do not know how to display these informal attributes of status, often implicitly receive a lower ranking.

Emwas Remembered

Last month, I organized a remembrance action at the location of the village of Imwas, which was destroyed by the Israeli military after the 1967 war.

The story behind the action is what I think is probably most interesting — you can read the correspondence between me and Mohyeddin, a son of Imwas, in this Facebook note:

This Letter Is 20 Years Overdue

You can also see more pictures, readings, links and responses on the Facebook page I opened for the event.

Emwas Remembrance Project

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Report from the Zochrot website, the organization that helped me carry out the event:

Act of Recognition at Imwas Village

By Tsipi Erann. Photography: Paz Tsoor.
06/2012

Tsipi is waiting for you

On Saturday, May 26, 2012, a group of us went out to create an event at the location where the Palestinian village Imwas once stood.

The background to the event was personal: Twenty years ago I met in the US a Palestinian man named Mohyeddin Abdulaziz. Few months ago I wrote him a letter apologizing for my shabby treatment of him back then, and thanking him for the part he played in my own political development.

He answered me, and told me about the destruction of the village and the expulsion of its residents in 1967. He asked that if ever I found myself in the recreational park built on the location where the village once stood, that I think of him, and of peace, and of justice.
I felt that it was entirely inadequate that I think of this issue only if I happen to find myself at that location. I felt this was an excellent opportunity to connect between the personal and the political, and decided to go to where Imwas stood and make an event of it.

I turned to Zochrot for cooperation, and they offered their guide, Umar, to take us on an excursion to Imwas, and also offered to spread the word about the event.

On the day of the event, we arrived with signs, such as “Imwas is Here” and “Ethnic Cleansing Courtesy of the JNF”. We read some texts we prepared in advance, and did a photo shoot of the signs and building remnants.

Afterwards, when Umar guided us through the village, we called Mohyeddin on the phone so he could be with us as we toured his village. When we managed it, we added video to the call. In his conversations with Mohyeddin, and with the help of a map of Imwas created by Zochrot together with refugees from the village, Umar was able to discern the exact location of Mohyeddin’s home. We took a picture to commemorate the spot, even though there is no sign that a house ever stood there.

The experience of being there, understanding that there used to be a community, with houses and schools and cafes – made all the more real by the presence of a son of Imwas, who could speak with us and hear us, even if only by phone – was both exciting and upsetting.

Watching people having barbecues there, seeing the few remains of houses, looking at the lists of donors (who undoubtedly were not told the park was built upon a destroyed village)… I, at least, am changed by that day, and it is clear to me that the event is not yet over. That event will continue, whether through additional projects that grow out of the acquaintance with Imwas and Mohyeddin, or if simply because the place and its story continue to live within us. Because as long as we remember it, we have not allowed Imwas to be totally erased.

Read the letters of Tsipi and Mohyeddin and comments on facebook.

  

Facebook censors cartoons against racism, capitalism

Facebook censors cartoons against racism, capitalism.

(But leaves the racist pages alone — including those calling for rape, murder, and other horrors – F.I.)

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The comic artist Mysh is one of my favorites in Israel. His work is not only conscious and critical, but also brilliantly drawn and at times, extremely funny. Last year I posted here his “Israeli Machine” video, which captured the hope I saw in the J14 movement more than any 1000-word essay I have written on this issue.

Mysh’s drawings have since turned more critical and dark, reflecting the change in the national mood as the summer of hope turned into an Israeli winter. Yet some of those recent works have been incredibly popular on Facebook, shared and liked by thousands of Israelis; other pieces even got some international attention. That’s when Facebook began to censor Mysh.

“A couple of days ago, I got a message that one of my works, titled The Real Superhero, was removed from the site,” Mysh told +972 over the phone today. “I actually suspected it was the nudity – the drawing is showing a naked Clark Kent, with the S carved on his chest – maybe it was too much for some people. But this morning, I couldn’t get into my Facebook account, and I saw that another one of my sketches, titled A Problem of Self Esteem, was also removed.”

Here is The Real Superhero:

The Real Superhero (by Mysh)

And this is the Problem of Self Esteem, a work inspired by the latest race riot in Tel Aviv.

A Problem of Self Esteem (by Mysh)

The Hebrew on the back of the muscular man has all kinds of popular racist slogans: “A good Arab is a dead Arab;” “Death to the Sudanese,” “Run over the Dosim (degrading name for Orthodox Jews);”Russians to Russia, Ethiopians to Ethiopia,” and more.

Mysh was also warned by Facebook that further flagging of his work would lead to the removal of his page. He was banned from the site for 24 hours.

“When they removed a third work, titled the Green Sabrah, I understood that there was something systematic here, and that I have to take care of it. I wrote a letter to Facebook, but the reply was that the department that dealing with my problem is on leave until June 6th.”

“The Green Sabrah: In control. But not in control of himself” (by Mysh)

“My work is critical and provocative, but I don’t think I am violating any of the house rules. My images are not inciting to violence, pornographic or extremely graphic. I really don’t know what to do now. The irony is that I have been praising Facebook recently as this amazing tool for promoting your art. I don’t have a site and I dread the thought that I will have to be a multi-platform person. I am quite bad with technology. I guess this was a kind of a wake up call for me, that this place I trusted is censored too.”

Mysh is 34, lives in Tel Aviv; he also directs films and animation. If you want to support him, joinhis Facebook page. We will also be featuring his work here on +972 from time to time. And for those who missed it, here is The Israeli Machine:

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