Saturday, January 12, 2008

Being Ethiopian in Israel.

I was just reading an article for a paper I'm writing about the identity of foreign workers' children in Israel. While this article is about Ethiopians and not foreign workers, it's related because identity is both elusive and strictly guarded in the Jewish state of Israel where the Orthodox Rabbinate has a monopoly on deciding "Who is a Jew" and therefore who is a "real Israeli."

This article is about the identity of the Ethiopians who came to Israel in the last 20 years. It argues that a new kind of racism developed in Israeli society. But that Ethiopians have been able to create an unique identity. "In fact, they have developed a hybrid identity that meshes Israeliness, Jewishness, and blackness. Have they succeeded in escaping their marginalised status and in establishing their hybrid conception within Israeli

A paragraph I read in the article recalls the post I wrote a while back about the term "kushi." Before I speculated. Now, the author spoke to some Ethiopian youth: "Some Ethiopian youngsters aged 16 to 18 seemed to suggest that they were rebelling against the image that had been foisted onto them. Asked how they reacted to being called kushi (black), a term that connotes a slave in their traditional culture, they replied unequivocally that whereas in the past they had been offended and backed off, now they would lash out at anyone who used the term and ‘let him have it’, in the words of one interviewee."

Ben-eliezer, Uri (2004) 'Becoming a black Jew: cultural racism and anti-racism in contemporary Israel', Social Identities, 10:2, 245 - 266

1 comment:

Baruch Muna said...

Hi there,
Stumbled on your blog as i was searching for Israeli Ethiopian stuff on the net. Thanks for noting what you have observed.
You can read my first article on my blog here, let me know what you think if it is worth it.