I (Heart) Israel (Heart) Iran Campaign. But Where Are the Iranian-Israelis?

by Loolwa Khazzoom • March 23, 2012 • Jewish Multicultural Corner

I love love love LOVE the Facebook movement started by Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir. Bravo! Jumping up and down. Cheering. I was all choked up watching their video, Israel Loves Iran. This is BRILLIANT SHIT. They are geniuses. It’s creative, totally fresh, and gutsy. I hope, I pray, that this movement sparks a world revolution based on love. Ronny and Michal, I tip my hat to you.

Now let’s crank this love machine up a notch and show more of Israel’s diversity – like having more black Israelis featured. And let’s put Iranian-Israelis up front and center in the video, speaking in Farsi. So that, you know, Iranians can understand what the fuck they are saying. And relate to Israelis on a whole other “homie” level.

In the video, the narrator says she has nothing against Iranians, that she doesn’t know any Iranians. Really? Israel has the largest Iranian Jewish population in the world. Never met an Iranian? Walk down the damn street and say hello to someone. Or listen to an album by superstar Israeli rapper Subliminal. His mama is from Iran.

If a similar video goes out to Iraq, let’s have Iraqi-Israelis at the forefront, speaking the Iraqi dialect of Arabic. And so on.

Jews fucking ROCK. We are a bridge between every nationality in the world. There may be little in common between a white European Christian, a brown Indian Hindu, and a black African Muslim, but there is a hell of a lot in common between a Russian Jew, an Indian Jew, and an Ethoipian Jew. Yes there are differences, but they are bound together by a core shared identity. And so as Jews, we have the opportunity to model bridging the gaps across the world.

Jews ARE every face of the globe.

To date, however, Jewish leadership has fucked up on this opportunity in the most pathetic way possible. I remember being at a progressive Jewish conference 25 years ago, for example, where the conference leader was talking about the importance of Blacks and Jews coming together and Arabs and Jews coming together. I raised my hand and respectfully pointed out that Black Jews and Middle Eastern/North African Jews were being completely ignored in the presentation, and that the obvious bridge between these communities is the Jews who stand at the intersection of these identities. The leader was like, “uh huh,” and moved on. Did. Not. Compute.

Typical.

I’ve been saying it for decades: If we want peace with Iran and Arab states, put Israelis from Iranian, Lebanese, Algerian, Yemenite, Iraqi, Moroccan, Egyptian, etc communities in positions of leadership. Encourage them to be there as their Mizrahi selves, instead of having to white-wash themselves in order to be considered acceptable leaders. Serve traditional foods from those countries during the meetings. Conduct meetings in Arabic and, inshallah, Farsi, instead of English.

Or if we’re doing this Facebook style, make sure Israelis of all ilk are represented in the visuals, and find the ethnic bridges between countries. Instead of having a green-eyed, white Israeli holding a sign saying “Palestinians, we love you,” have an indigenous Middle Eastern Israeli holding the sign instead – you know, someone who could be (mis)identified as Palestinian.

We are the common ground — we who have been shunned to the side, dismissed as the extra-curricular Jews. We who have been absent from the Jewish history books and posters on the walls of Jewish schools. If Israel wants peace with and respect from countries around the world, let’s start honoring, respecting, and giving power to the Israelis with roots in those countries.

I do want to give credit that the video didn’t round up and parade all 10 blonde people in Israel, the way that mainstream Israeli media does. there were definitely Mizrahim in the video. And again, I am fucking ECSTATIC about and inspired by this campaign. It’s just that, there’s always room to open our eyes a little bit more and to make room for a few more people at the table.




2 Responses to “I (Heart) Israel (Heart) Iran Campaign. But Where Are the Iranian-Israelis?”

  1. David Lash
    Mar 24, 2012

    When Israel respects its true multicultural demographic and puts its many-hued faces in the forefront of the dialogue with its neighbors and that among ourselves, everything changes…and for the better.


  2. yo
    Apr 23, 2012

    I agree with everything you said. I think one thing to remember is a lot of Iranian/Farsi Israelis still have family in Iran and are scared about the repercussions their families may experience if they talk out in Israel.



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Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

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Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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