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The Mizrahi struglle and the Israeli Black Panthers 

Darkness in the Holy Land

Anchor 2

Preliminary Knowledge:

  1. African Jews and Other Jewish Diasporas

  2. The Hierarchical Division of Society in Israel: Mizrahim and Ashkenazim

mizrahi Jewish diasporas 

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Jews who have roots in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly those who lived in Arab or Muslim-majority countries. They are often contrasted with Ashkenazi Jews, who come from Europe. Mizrahi Jews have a long and complex history of diaspora that has spanned centuries, with waves of migration due to various political, social, and economic factors.


THE Emigration


Ma'abarot (=Transit Camps)  were immigrant and refugee absorption camps established in Israel in the 1950s, constituting one of the largest public projects planned by the state to implement its sociospatial and housing policies.

The ma'abarot were meant to provide accommodation for the large influx of Jewish refugees and new Jewish immigrants arriving to the newly independent State of Israel, replacing the less habitable immigrant camps or tent cities. In 1951 there were 127 Ma'abarot housing 250,000 Jews, of which 75% were Mizrahi Jews; 58% of Mizrahi Jews who had immigrated up to that point had been sent to Ma'abarot, compared to 18% of European Jews.

Ashkenazi and Mizrahim

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Nine out of four hundred: the Mizrahim History according to Kirschenbaum

Meir Gal

Six out of two hundred: the eastern jews artists according to Zalmona (tribute to Meir Gal).   Ortal Ben-Dain


“This is a race unlike any we have seen before. They say there are differences between people from Tripolitania, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, but I can’t say I have learned what those inferences are, if they do, in fact, exist. They say, for example, that the Tripolitanians and Tunisians are “better” than the Moroccans and Algerians, but it’s the same problem with them all… The primitiveness of these people is unsurpassable. As a rule, they are only slightly more advanced than the Arabs, Negroes and Berbers in their countries… The [North] Africans bring their ways with them wherever they settle. It is not surprising that the crime rate in the country is rising… above all there is one equally grave fact and that is their total inability to adjust to the life in this country, and primarily their chronic laziness and hatred for any kind of work.” Arye Gelblum, Haaretz, April 22, 1949.

The story of Shimon Yehoshuaa bleeding on the roof of his house on December 23, 1982. He was shot while protecting his house from demolition. Photo: Shalom Bartel


The Yemenite Children Affair refers to the disappearance of mainly Yemenite Jewish babies and toddlers of immigrants in the newly founded state of Israel from 1948 to 1954. The number of children affected ranges from 1,000 to 5,000


Loss of identity, loss of language, loss of culture


What does it mean to be authentic,
to run down the middle of Tel Aviv and shout in Judeo-Arabic
“Ana min el-Maghreb, ana min el-Maghreb”?
(I am from the Atlas mountains, I am from the Atlas mountains).
What does it mean to be authentic,
to sit in Café Roval in a colorful robe 
or declaim:
my name is not Zohar, I am Zaish I am Zaish (a Moroccan name).
Neither this nor that,
and nonetheless a different language strikes the mouth until gums crack,
and nonetheless spurned and beloved scents pounce
and I fall between the chairs
lost in the jumble of voices.


Wadi Salib riots

The Wadi Salib riots were a series of street demonstrations and acts of vandalism in the Wadi Salib neighborhood of Haifa, Israel, in 1959. They were sparked by the shooting of a Moroccan Jewish immigrant by police officers. Demonstrators accused the police of ethnic discrimination against Mizrahi Jews.

David Ben Harosh  
The leader 


 The protesters shouted :

"King of Morocco, take us back"


the Israeli Black panthers

The Israeli Black Panthers were a social movement formed in Israel in the early 1970s. The movement was primarily led by a group of young Mizrahi Jews who felt marginalized and discriminated against in Israeli society. The goals of the Israeli Black Panthers were centered around social justice and equality for Mizrahi Jews in Israel.

a film by Nissim mossek

Some of their key goals included:


1.End to Discrimination: The Israeli Black Panthers aimed to end systemic discrimination against Mizrahi Jews in various areas such as housing, education, employment, and legal representation.


2.Economic Reforms: They called for economic reforms to improve the socio-economic conditions of Mizrahi Jews, including access to better jobs, affordable housing, and better education.


3.Recognition and Representation: They demanded greater recognition and representation for Mizrahi Jews within Israeli society, including in political, social, and cultural institutions.


4.Cultural Equality: The Israeli Black Panthers sought to promote cultural equality and to challenge stereotypes and prejudices about Mizrahi Jews in Israeli society.


5. End to Police Brutality: They protested against police brutality and demanded reforms to the criminal justice system to ensure fair treatment for all citizens, regardless of ethnicity or background.


6.Greater Social Services: They called for increased access to social services and support for Mizrahi Jewish communities, including health care, education, and social welfare programs.


Overall, the Israeli Black Panthers aimed to challenge and address the socio-economic and political inequalities faced by Mizrahi Jews in Israel and to advocate for social justice and equality within Israeli society.

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‘Our ideology is our pain"

Reuven Abergel


Were the Israeli Black Panthers successful in their struggle?

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Read more:

The Black Panthers' version of the Passover Haggadah. Instead of slavery in Egypt - slavery in Israel.

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