Title notwithstanding, this is not a problem restricted to the context of Israel. Certainly, discussions about Israel -- whether they seek to cast it as a "White" state by and for European colonists or downplay the very real discrimination and mistreatment non-Ashkenazi Jews continue to experience in Israel -- are one very important forum where this phenomenon can be identified. But there are more broad cultural implications as well, including disrupting the assumption in Western circles (Jewish and non-Jewish) that Ashkenazi culture is the default Jewish culture, emphasizing and celebrating the long history many Jews had in the Arab world and their important contributions to Arab and Middle Eastern culture, and incorporating the plight of Jews driven out of Arab countries into broader discussions of achieving a Mideast peace.
These issues, as one might expect, do not lend themselves uniformly to either conventional "left" or "right" narratives. But too often, "non-Ashkenazi Jews are engaged with only as far as they support someone else’s narrative. Once they seek to speak in their own voice, their putative allies disappear." That needs to change.
Our concluding paragraph reads as follows:
Mizrahi, Sephardic, and other non-Ashkenazi Jews have stories and demands which pose a challenge to Jewish and non-Jewish groups of any political persuasion. But the obligation to be intersectional does not end when a marginalized group ceases to say what one wants to hear. Taking non-European Jews seriously means taking them seriously on their own terms. This basic principle of justice is one in which both the non-Jewish and Ashkenazi Jewish communities have often failed to uphold. They, and we, need to do better.Speaking for myself, I hope that this column triggers a needed discussion both in and out of the Jewish community. Serious consideration of non-Ashkenazi Jewish perspectives is not an option for groups that want to talk about Jews, or Middle Easterners, in a just and egalitarian fashion.