In 1983, shortly after the Iranian revolution, my family briefly considered making aliyah to Israel.
We visited and I, as a child, fell in love with the land. But, we were subject of much prejudice. The Israelis called us "Parsi" which felt dirty and condescending, much like the N word is used to belittle a black man. At the time, many of the Iranian immigrants to the country were sucking the life out of Israel and not contributing; today, the Iranian-Israelis like those in the United States, are highly accomplished, educated, and financially successful, and as a result, more respected.
As I watch the struggles of Ethiopian-Israelis, I remember the price of racism, prejudice and a new immigrant population. But, I also have full faith in Israel, that they will solve this openly and rise above it stronger than what meets the eye in the news. Israel is a young democracy, still experiencing growing pains and racism exists everywhere, not a Jewish invention!
In the U.S. during election season, all candidates get scrutinized and dirty laundries are aired, closets open up and past indiscretions are highlighted. Everyone understands this to be part of democracy and choosing the best candidate for the job. But in Israel, in internal struggles become the enemy’s propaganda.
The cost of democracy in Israel is higher than elsewhere. Israel has to be a better democracy in order to enjoy validity, particularly because it is being watched with hawkish eyes. Sometimes the freedom that the democracy affords shields the internal enemies that seek its destruction.
Still, what remains most bothersome are not the struggles captured on the news, but the pundits that abuse them to question Israel’s legitimacy.
These important words of Netanyahu will not get much publicity, and yet he said "We must all line up against racism, condemn it and work to eradicate it. The ministerial committee that I will chair will advance plans to resolve problems in education, housing, culture, religion, employment and in other areas."