Advert stirs accusations of inter-Jewish racism

Advert stirs accusations of inter-Jewish racism
Updated 01 December 2015

Advert stirs accusations of inter-Jewish racism

Advert stirs accusations of inter-Jewish racism

JERUSALEM: An Israeli advert for a high-end housing development has been accused of carrying a racist message, shedding light on oft-hidden tensions between Jewish communities in the country.
The video, which depicts a family of light-skinned Jews praying before receiving a knock on the door from their darker-skinned neighbors, was published online by the Bemuna construction company.
Wearing unusual hats and lacking in social graces, the neighbors end up toasting marshmallows on the family’s Hanukkah candles — a Jewish religious holiday.
“Do you also want to live in a house of your own? Do you want neighbors to your own liking?” the voiceover adds, before the name of the building project and the company appear on the screen.
While the advert doesn’t specifically mention either group, it draws on long-standing tensions between lighter-skinned Ashkenazi — of central and eastern European descent and who have traditionally been Israel’s political and economic elite — and Sephardic Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.
The advert, since taken off the Internet, received criticism on social media. The company could not be reached for comment.
Henriette Dahan Kalev, a professor of political science specializing in racism in Israel and a cofounder of a campaign for equal rights for Middle Eastern Jews, said such overt racism was unusual but it highlighted a wider problem.
“(Racism in Israel) has become more sophisticated, more hidden, more problematic, but it is as severe as in the past,” she said.
Sephardic Jews, who make up the majority of Israel’s Jewish population, have long complained of discrimination by Ashkenazis.