eumelia: (Default)
Whenever I talk about race and/or racism I do it from a default point of privilege. I've never, nor will I ever in my country, be discriminated against due to the colour of my skin, my surname, or where I was born and raised.

I was born and raised in what is probably considered one the "better" towns. We are not the most affluent town in the district, but status wise that hardly matters. We are upwardly mobile. Both my parents have University degrees and the expectation is/was that all their children get a degree in what interested them and self-actualise themselves.

Hence me studying a Literary Theory and Women & Gender Studies double major for my BA.

My point is that when it comes to race, in Israel, I've pretty much got it made.

Which makes being the daughter of immigrants very interesting indeed.

Last year, my main entry for [ profile] ibarw was about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the asymmetry of that conflict and the imbued racism of the Occupation - "What is this symmetry you speak of?".

Thinking about what to write this year and working closely with my dad in his Pharmacy for the past year or so, I came to the conclusion that my family's experience as immigrants falls into a very unique story. On the one hand, they've had to deal with the regular run-of-the-mill issues have to deal with; the language barrier, the culture shock, the separation from family and finding a community of other people with a background similar to their own.
One big difference though.
They left a country in which they were an ethnic and religious minority and came to a country in which they are an ethnic and religious majority(1).

My mother "jokes" that one of the reasons she wanted to move to Israel from South Africa was that she wouldn't have to "work so hard" to be Jewish.

Before people jump up and start saying that Antisemitism isn't the same as Racism and why am I writing about this for Intl. Blog Against Racism Week. Let me first state, that some Jews have white privilege, some Jews are people of colour. In the context of Israel, I am what would be considered the WASP, and even that is pushing it because people here insist on ethnicising (yeah I made up a word) practically everyone.
Obviously some ethnicities are better than others.
Regardless, Antisemitism exists in various forms and is espoused in various ways. Sometimes it intersects with Racism, sometimes it doesn't.

With that established, let's talk about the experience of a child who considers herself Israeli though and through who grew up with a name that was just that weird.

I remember as a child cringing when my parents spoke Hebrew to the friends I brought home, I remember cringing when my friends tried to speak English in order to accommodate my parents.
I remember hating my name, because it denoted me as non-"Israeli". I didn't even have the benefit of a Russian name, which while being an non-Hebrew name, there was no need to explain time and time again - where the family was from and why they had the name they had.

"Where are you from?"
"My home town"
"Where were you born?"
"In the hospital there"
"What? Really?!"
"Yeah, really"
"Then why do you have such a strange name?"

Suffice to say growing up, my name helped me weed out the idiots out of my life. It made for a slightly stand-offish existence and a pretty negative opinion on people in general.

Any way throughout my life my experience as a Jewish person was that of being default. I didn't understand where my parents persecution paranoia came from. For a long-long time I did not understand how the story of the Exodus, the Exile, the 1492 Expulsion from Spain, the Pogroms of Eastern Europe had anything to do with me.
I thought I understood the Holocaust, seeing as after WWII the state was founded.

The history of my people is that of persecution, seclusion and exclusion.

I understand that. But not really. I've never been different because I'm Jewish. I've never felt Foreign in my own country. I know quite a few people who do.
My perspective as an ethnically white Sabra (an Jewish person born in Israel) enabled me to be oblivious to most forms of discrimination and it took me a long time to break down and unpack that privilege.

What really helped was to actually listen to my parents, the way they spoke and the way they interacted with non-English speakers.
My mother is an English teacher, she has to speak to kids (some of whom can barely read and write Hebrew) and make them understand her in a way that I've never had to try.
My father is a pharmacist and the interaction between him and his clientèle can at times be non-verbal - they hand him a script, he fills it out, they pay, the end. At times it can lead to so much frustration on both parts I sometimes wonder how my dad retains loyal customers who are not the Addicts treated at the clinic situated above his pharmacy.

Being Jewish outside of Israel, wherever that is, is being different.
I've never had to take a special day off for any of the Jewish holidays. I've never had to think about keeping Kosher seeing as the default for goods in the supermarket is Kosher, the non-Kosher shops are the ones marked as different in these parts.

My parents tell me to this day, that anything non-Jewish is Antisemitic. To me that sounds like paranoia. And I'm pretty paranoid myself regarding my identity.

And sometimes I want to shake us, Isreali Jews in general, and tell ourselves "Get the fuck over it!", "Move on!", "It's 1492, 1883, 1939 any more!".
And Jews themselves are now oppressors in a land considered a Homeland to more than one people.
And yet it's because of that History that I can call this place my home.
I have no other place to call home.
My parents and siblings who were born a continent away do not consider any where else their home.
I have family in the Diaspora that will never consider Israel their home.

It is a confuzzeling existence.

I know of no other kind immigration pattern in which a minority becomes a majority. Like the rest of Jewish identity, it is no cohesive and it is a difficult task trying to explain what it has to do with blogging against racism.

I really hope I managed to put my point across.

(1) Israel is a very touchy subject, as almost everyone knows. I'm going to be talking about my experiences only and while I may touch on how that relates to how I think and feel about the Occupation and the conflict. The main subject of this post is not that. If you are interested in reading my thoughts about the Occupation and Israeli politics as they relate to it, you can press the tag the occupation.
eumelia: (Default)
It's that time of year again!

Here's the plug for [ profile] ibarw week 4! This year the theme is Global, so there's a want for non-English blog posts.

Here's how to participate as per written:

- Announce the week in your blog.

- Post about race and/or racism: in media, in life, in the news, personal experiences, writing characters of color, portrayals of race in fiction, review a book on the subject, etc. (Linking back here is highly appreciated!) The optional theme this year is "global."

- Let us know by bookmarking your post on Delicious with "for:ibarw," or comment with a link to your post in one of the link collecting posts.

For inspiration, here are the previous years' IBARW posts and last year's POC in SF Carnival IBARW edition. You can also check out this post or delicioused recommended reading for further resources.

That's it!

For my own former entries just clink on the ibarw tag.
eumelia: (Default)
So International Blog Against Racism Week ended yesterday and my default icon is back to cute Chibi!Mel.

However, that doesn't mean we stop blogging, talking or generally being pissed about racism and racial discrimination.

Due to my somewhat controversial (though it really isn't) entry "What is this symmetry you speak of?", I was told that I don't take into the account the motivation behind the racial discrimination that permeates the culture and society in which I live.

I quote the comment:
Your post started out saying how privileged you are and then you went off to say how racist your country is. The pivot/changeover of your post is where you said that you have never experienced racism. I posit that you have. It just doesn't fit your narrative, nor that of many other Israelies, so you ignore it.

You see Israel as a bully, a regional superpower who, externally, runs roughshod over weaker neighbours (Palestinians) and abuses the "other" internally.

The people who are writing "Arabs out" and suspect every Arab of being a potential terrorist see Israel as surrounded by "a ocean of enemies" who want to "throw the Jews into the sea". Where you see malicious behaviour, I see fearful behaviour

I am not supporting racism, I am not saying that Israel has no racist elements in it, I will never accept "Honour" killing as anything but the heinous, rancorous act that it is.

What I am saying is that in an otherwise enlightened post, you are wearing blinkers which are preventing you from being a fuller part of the solution. If people are scared and that leads them to racism, you cannot just say "Stop, What you do is Wrong" and expect them to change.

You are, of course, part of the solution already, and that is a Good Thing(tm)


Emphasis mine.

There is a problem with citing a motivator for such behaviour. It can be easily construed as excusing the behaviour in some ways at worst or falls into that problematic category of "hate the sin, not the sinner" at best.

Basically, it reduces the accountability and responsibility of the those committing racist behaviour be it in words or in action.
And that is, how you say?
Not cool.
All prejudice, each and every single one can be reduced to its fear factor.
Fear of the Other, whoever they may be does not excuse the behaviour (including mine) of those who perpetrate and perpetuate the racial discrimination I witness in my day to day life and that others experience as a part of their identity.

I don't think humans by their nature are malicious, fear is a far bigger motivator than Evil. And because we as humans are so far removed from anything "natural" it's idiotic to proclaim anything to do with human behaviour natural - no to mention cultural differences in which Nature can have very different meanings.

In any event, the reason why someone says or does something racist matters little to me, this also true when someone says something racist or racially prejudicial and qualifies it by saying "but I didn't mean it that way"..
"Text is everything" said Derrida.
It's also nothing if you're going to ignore the context and the power structure of social interaction.

In short, this is the conversation we all have to have:
eumelia: (Default)
I am a woman.

That's a fairly bold statement, don't you think? It is a very political statement. It signifies that I am not a man.
Man, as a rule, has been synonymous with Human.
In Hebrew the word "Adam" is not just a name, it is the word for Human. Son of Adam - בן אדם - Ben Adam is "Human".

As a Woman, I am by default "Other" and I suffer for it, obviously.

However, I do need to qualify my status as a Woman.

I'm also a Queer woman, but if I wanted to I could pass for Straight and most of my problems that step from homophobia and other forms of sexual (not gender) discrimination can quite easily not touch my life.

Isn't there something missing though?
No, not really, don't see anything else that's particularly important to my status as a Woman in a Patriarchal society.

Well, now isn't that significant.
Yes, very.
It signifies that I am a White Woman.
A different kind of default, as it happens.

If we were going to play Oppression Olympics I'd probably end up in the third to last place or somewhere about there.
But the comparison of the different Oppressions that go on in our sucky, screwy world is not only unhelpful, it is insignificant. Because by trying to justify my own oppression, I become blind to the fact that I, myself am an oppressor in turn - and in these parts even worse, an occupier.

So lets throw the Olympics out of the window please. Beyond the fact that it is an insult to people with actual grievances in this world (which I, I am lucky to say do not. I'm living a pretty sweet life, Queerness and Womanhood notwithstanding).

As a member of the Default population (that is to say, White/Ashkenazi Jewish), that had been raised by liberal parents (that is to say, colour-blind) it took me a long time to realise that where you come from, the colour of your skin and the religion that you practice are far more significant and that the meritocracy that the Neo-Liberal wave we currently engulfed proclaims that are living in is utterly and completely false.
That the very fact that I was born in a middle-class neighborhood, in a mostly middle-class city, twenty minutes from Tel-Aviv, enables me, so easily, to prove my merit.

So where is my intersection?
Personally, my intersection, when spoken about in sociological terms in that of Oppression, is in my Queer identity and the fact that I'm a woman.
But as a white woman all I can is to tread carefully.
Because as a white woman I am an oppressor of men and women who have been classes and racialised as Other.
And that really just the way it is.

There is probably something else that there is to be said about this subject, but I'm at a loss at the moment.

Please, comments are welcome!

Edited to add: Go read more entires written for International Blog Against Racism Week, which should be every week, of course.
eumelia: (Default)
Last year I only read entries that were written as part of [ profile] ibarw and didn't participate in debate, meta-reading or discussion.
Mainly because I didn't feel I had much to add.

Re-reading some of the entries from last year and trying to sponge some inspiration I've come to the conclusion that I didn't feel I have much to add, nor do I feel I have much to add to anti-racist discourse, is because I'm a member of an Oppressing and Occupying population and class.

It is common in certain types of papers to establish the various identities of the author so that one reading may know through what prism they are going to receiving this information.
On the interwebs I've seen this being called unloading the privilege knapsack.
Here goes: I am White, Upwardly Mobile and Cisgendered*.

Those three identifiers place me smack in the middle of the Oppressing population and class. The fact that I am Feminist, Queer and a Woman do little to negate those big three.
In which I rant )
More to come, time and studies permitting.

*Someone whose gender identity has only ever been experienced as physically and mentally aligned, that is to say, not transgendered.

**Mainly Lithuanian, Latvian, Ukrainian and other Slavik Jews that aren't Russian, Polish and Romanian (I don't know what makes the distinction, only that it exists).
eumelia: (Default)
It is [ profile] ibarw!
Never heard of [ profile] ibarw?

Read this edition introductory post and see if you'd like to participate or contribute in some way.
Pasted here for convenience:

1. Announce the week in your blog.

2. Switch your default icon to either an official IBARW icon, or one which you feel is appropriate. To get an official IBARW icon, you may modify one of yours yourself or ask someone to do so. [at [ profile] ibarw you can find a bunch of appropriate icons if you so please]

3. Post about race and/or racism: in media, in life, in the news, personal experiences, writing characters of color, portrayals of race in fiction, review a book on the subject, etc. (Linking back here is highly appreciated!) The optional theme this year is intersectionality.

I don't know if I have time to write an entry on the subject myself, but you've got something relevant you can post the link right now at the link aggregation post. There will be one everyday starting today all the way to the 10th of August.


eumelia: (Default)

June 2015

 12345 6

V and Justice

V: Ah, I was forgetting that we are not properly introduced. I do not have a name. You can call me V. Madam Justice...this is V. V... this is Madam Justice. hello, Madam Justice.

Justice: Good evening, V.

V: There. Now we know each other. Actually, I've been a fan of yours for quite some time. Oh, I know what you're thinking...

Justice: The poor boy has a crush on adolescent fatuation.

V: I beg your pardon, Madam. It isn't like that at all. I've long admired you...albeit only from a distance. I used to stare at you from the streets below when I was a child. I'd say to my father, "Who is that lady?" And he'd say "That's Madam Justice." And I'd say "Isn't she pretty."

V: Please don't think it was merely physical. I know you're not that sort of girl. No, I loved you as a person. As an ideal.

Justice: What? V! For shame! You have betrayed me for some harlot, some vain and pouting hussy with painted lips and a knowing smile!

V: I, Madam? I beg to differ! It was your infidelity that drove me to her arms!

V: Ah-ha! That surprised you, didn't it? You thought I didn't know about your little fling. But I do. I know everything! Frankly, I wasn't surprised when I found out. You always did have an eye for a man in uniform.

Justice: Uniform? Why I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. It was always you, V. You were the only one...

V: Liar! Slut! Whore! Deny that you let him have his way with you, him with his armbands and jackboots!

V: Well? Cat got your tongue? I though as much.

V: Very well. So you stand revealed at last. you are no longer my justice. You are his justice now. You have bedded another.

Justice: Sob! Choke! Wh-who is she, V? What is her name?

V: Her name is Anarchy. And she has taught me more as a mistress than you ever did! She has taught me that justice is meaningless without freedom. She is honest. She makes no promises and breaks none. Unlike you, Jezebel. I used to wonder why you could never look me in the eye. Now I know. So good bye, dear lady. I would be saddened by our parting even now, save that you are no longer the woman I once loved.


-"V for Vendetta"


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