The economist Shlomo Maoz lost his job last week after lambasting the ‘white’ Ashkenazi establishment. But a new study reveals that Mizrahi oriental Jews are doing better than ever – and intermarriage between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim is running at 25 percent – testifying to the astonishing success of the Zionist ‘ingathering of the exiles’. Haaretz reports:
Tens-of-thousands of words, thousands of Internet comments and enumerable conversations have been devoted to Shlomo Maoz’s “white man’s speech” last week – the lecture where investment house Excellence Nessuah’s chief economist called Bank Leumi “the whites’ bank.”
Two issues have been in focus. First, was Excellence justified in firing Maoz for his remarks, or was this illegitimate censorship? Second, what about the fact that Maoz himself is not exactly deprived but rather a longtime collaborator with tycoons of all colors? He’s a member of 15 different boards of directors and earns NIS 200,000 a month, by conservative estimates.
|Photo by: Ayala Tal|
Few people have addressed the main points of the speech, which took place at Sapir College. Maoz was hard-hitting, referring to “the ruling white society” and “the robber kibbutzim.” He said he’d like to see “someone bash the heads of the Ashkenazim on Rothschild Boulevard.” Maoz didn’t provide any data to back up his allegations.
But a new study, to be published this year, maps the ethnic component of each of the economic deciles of Israel’s population. It was the widening gaps between them that propelled last summer’s social protest. As of 2010, almost half (47 percent ) of the upper two deciles – the only people who end each month in the black – are Israeli-born non-Haredi Ashkenazim with fathers born in Europe or the United States. Yet Ashkenazim constitute only 25 percent of the general population.
Only 26 percent of the people in the highest decile are Mizrahim – Jews of Middle Eastern or North African descent – and this is also their exact proportion of the population.
In the lowest decile only 6 percent are non-Haredi Ashkenazim, while 12 percent are Mizrahim. Nearly half of this decile – 48 percent – are Arabs, while Haredim of all ethnic groups account for 19 percent (most of the remainder are new immigrants of different backgrounds). The average per capita income of Mizrahim is 20 percent lower than that of Ashkenazim.
The study was initiated by Prof. Momi Dahan, a former director general of the Finance Ministry and former chief economist of the Bank of Israel. Dahan also investigated socioeconomic gaps a decade ago and concluded that they had widened. But this time he’s actually optimistic.
“I had the feeling that Maoz’s speech was motivated more by personal distress than by observation – meaning a dispassionate, thorough analysis,” Dahan told Haaretz in an interview. “You don’t use the word ‘robber’ in a dispassionate analysis.”