I was told that there was a gentleman's agreement that the presidents of Israel would be in rotation Ashkenazic and Mizrachic. With four Ashkenazic presidents before the token Mizrachi President Yitzchak Navon, en two Ashkenazic presidents after him, it was in 2000 high time for a next Mizrachi Israeli Head of the State. However, something funny happened.

As I mentioned already in an earlier published letter to the JPost, at the time I was highly surprised by the suggestion that Moshe Katzav should be the next president. Whoever, who was not a political insider, had heard of this backbencher? In no time was he elected. What was so special about him that he could come out of nowhere to quickly advance to become Israel's representative? And this is my unproven theory.

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His bad reputation with women from the time that he was minister of Construction and Housing was a political public secret - which is a euphemism for: every politician knew.  He had to be elected, not to give a Mizrachi a turn, but rather, because his conduct with women would give the racists a sure-fire way to get rid of him, and so to put Mizrachim in their place. (I'm not claiming that every Ashkenazic Member of Knesset who voted for him was a racist, in on this sinister plot. But there must have been enough of them with this motive to vote in this unlikely candidate.)


Mizrachim and more numerous: people raised poor (and religious Israelis) were especially pleased with "their" new president. He did them proud and his portrait appeared in many shops and other public places owned by Mizrachim. Little did they know that, according to my unproven theory, this was the ideal situation to get them humiliated as never before. And this is how it went. The scandal broke, and Mizrachim were beaten back out of the limelight. How convenient for those who are racists.

If I'm right - and I trust historians to tell us later if I was - this was not an isolated incident of doing the Mizrachim in. In the same year of 2000, poster child of the Mizrachim, Aryeh Deri was convicted of bribery, and quickly a special law was installed to keep people convicted of immoral behavior out of political life for seven years after they leave jail. This should have us get rid of him forever, but - surprise - he came back and is here to stay, it seems.

Also in 2000, Yitzchak Mordechai had to resign because of sexual misconduct, extinguishing this new promising rising political star forever. Deri and Mizrachi cut down, at least Katzav was going to be president.

Meanwhile, in 2004 another Mizrachi made it high, Menachem Mazuz was appointed Attorney  General. I'm not saying that he wasn't the most qualified man for the job, but it was o so convenient to have a Mizrachi AG go after the Mizrachi president. And that is exactly what happened.

I know that we had leading Ashkenazi politicians that went to jail, like Ehud Olmert and Avraham Hirschon, but this had not the same effect as sidelining Mizrachi politicians. First of all, no Ashkenazi felt bad for other Ashkenazim violating laws. Secondly, Ashkenazim don't need to struggle to emerge from an oppressed position. Thirdly, influential Mizrachic politicians are still few and far between. These few have to show that there is no racism and each of them are vital. Fourthly, relatively many Mizrachic politicians have been removed by the law. Their informal imprecise ways often made them not alert enough to stay out of trouble with strict laws, while Ashkenazic leaders (no one is perfect) often understood how to channel their misconduct in such ways that they won't get into trouble with the law.

Meanwhile, so many Ashkenazim and Mizrachim have married each other that demographic experts can no longer divide the Israeli Jewish population into Mizrachic and Ashkenazic. In other words, on the level of the population, racism is out - giving an excellent example to every Western country. But on the level of the rulers and leaders, I'm afraid this still will take time.


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