POC Profile: Jewish Middle Eastern from Israel

I was born in Israel and moved to the United States later on. I’m of Yemen, Egyptian and Syrian descent but am 100% Mizrachi Jewish. My family all moved into Israel in or right after World War II, having gone through its affects in context of the Middle East. I am bilingual (Hebrew and English) so I may also point out some bilingual experiences. 

I see a lot of talk about Ashkenazi (European) Jews and the Arabic/Muslim community in the Middle East, but barely see any information about Mizrachi Jews (which is a huge ethnicity). 

Culture/Holidays: Even though Mizrachi Jewish culture is very similar to its surrounding Middle Eastern community it’s also extremely different. Because Jews were segregated from Muslim (and other goy religions) neighborhoods they grew their own cultures and traditions, and because they were far away from their Ashkenazi sisters the holidays are celebrated differently. Some even created new holidays! A good example of this is Mimuna, a Moroccan-Jewish holiday celebrating the finish of the intense Kosher within the Passover season. I’ve noticed that in my Grandma’s Yemen household we celebrate holidays differently than in my Ashkenazi friend’s households (also extremely differently than in American Jewish households). We read different parts of Magalas, sing different songs, and if we do sing the same songs they are probably set in different tunes. Simply, search up traditions for the specific area you’re writing about, because chances are they celebrate it differently than most Jews you see in the USA (or any European country) do.

Food: You know how people make jokes about white people food being bland? It’s the same in the Jewish community. Food is very different within the Jewish community. You heard of kugel? That’s an Ashkenazi food. So is defiltefish and chunt and matzabre (although matzabre does have a Yemeni equivalent called ftut where you soak the matza instead of fry it). Middle Eastern Jewish food is amazing! Although I can mostly only tell you about Yemen food, it’s such a great area to explore. Yemeni Jewish food is very filling and has a lot of dough based recipes (such as jachnun and malauach), and has amazing spice and sauces like schug and chilbe. A lot of the food is also pita based (the cuisine very rarely involve bread). And Just like how the shnitzel snuck into Ashkenazi food, goy Middle Eastern food became a common in the Mizrachi community, like shwarma, falafel and shakshuka. 

In Israel there are some really common food differences than in the USA. Falafel is the common street food (similar to getting one of those ham and egg bagels in a coffee shop in an inner city area in the USA). Almost every house is equipped with pita, and bread is of higher level than the usual pre-cut soft white bread that is found in Supermarkets in the USA. The Mizrachi and Ashkenazi cuisine gets really mixed (such as having Ashkenazi defiltefish with Yemeni chilbe as a spice) and there are some stables that everybody eats (like shnitzel with ptitim or spaghetti).

History: The main thing I want to say here is that yes, the Mizrachi community was affected by WWII. Just like with Trump, when a powerful nation f**** up, the whole world feels it. The Holocaust was not exclusive to Europe. The Mizrachi community was hunted for literally thousands of years in the Middle East (seriously, that’s what many of our holidays are about) and it absolutely did not end until we were able to move out. My Yemeni grandmother had to run away from Yemen and walk the whole way through Saudi Arabia to get to Israel because their community was being murdered in masses, the Jewish community in Yemen is practically extinct, everybody who could moved to Israel. My grandfather in Egypt faced the same causes to move into Israel, even though his family was powerful in Cairo back then they left all their belongings when his uncle was killed on the street by an anti-Semitic riot.

Identity Issues: Back in Israel my identity wasn’t an issue for me. I was Jewish (like everybody) and Mizrachi (like many). But when I moved to the USA it was different. All the Jews here were Ashkenazi (except for the small Sephardi community) and none of the Middle Eastern community here was Jewish. They barely even thought it existed. I still have people who are shocked when I say I’m a Mizrachi Jew, because they thought that Judaism was almost exclusively a white religion. Which I can’t blame them for when that’s all they see around them. But it’s still a problem. Middle Eastern meetups commonly wouldn’t accept me as a Middle Eastern person, and even more so shunned me for being Israeli even though I’m not anti-Palestine. I would still go to meetups like this even though I was commonly called a terrorist or would have to deal with anti-Semitism, because even though I was the only Jew there, these people still dealt with similar problems to which I did living in this which supremacist nation - I felt closer to them than I did to Ashkenazi Jews (and unlike in Ashkenazi communities I was not treated as a token POC).  I stopped going when my mom banned me from such meetings, because someone in the group threatened to hurt me. I’m not saying it’s not okay to be disgusted by Israels actions against the Arabic community around it (I am too), I’m just saying that shunning me from that community when I had no other community to go to because of something I could not and did not have any say in was not the right answer in my opinion.

Language: One aspect that the Ashkenazi and Mizrachi community have in common is the Holy language, Hebrew. In Israel that’s the main language that is spoken, other than minor communities who speak Arabic or Ultra-Orthodox communities who speak Yiddish. Still, the communities were separated for so many years that there are many alternate pronunciations and accents. As you may have noticed in the food section, Ashkenazi food names are a lot more European, while Mizrachi names are a lot closer to Arabic and other Semitic languages. 

Misconceptions: Judaism is not a white religion! That is not to say that Ashkenazi Jews aren’t white, but saying that Judaism is a white religion cuts POC Jews (or JOC? I’ve never seen that in use) out of their goy communities. Judaism is found all around the world, there are Latinx Jews, East Asian Jews, African Jews, Hispanic Jews, and Middle Eastern Jews. The only place I would be shocked to find a Jewish Ethnicity in would be Native American tribes. Also on a different note, bilinguals do mix up languages. I see bilingual people shunning monolingual authors for having characters accidentally answer in the wrong language, saying “whoops! I was thinking in my /other language/!” But I do this so commonly that my friends joke that I’m a badly written bilingual character. I’m just saying that the bilingual experience is vast, and not everybody thinks the same.

Things I’d like to see less of/Stereotypes I’m tired of seeing: Every Jewish family being written like the Maus family. All of them are white German Jews who’s family suffered through the Holocaust. Don’t get me wrong, Holocaust survivor’s stories are so so important. But all the Jews I see in media are Jewish studies professors in the upper middle class suburban area who adopted a kid of a different race and made them hilariously Jewish in an out of place way. It’s so boring. And nonrepresentational. Please stop creating stereotypical cookie-cut Jews. Also the idea that Jews are the extreme end of being white, where Jews can’t even start to understand people of color, or white Jews marking themselves as people of color. 

Things I’d like to see more of: More Mizrachi Jews! I’m telling you this is such a rad community, and it is barely explored in literature. Once when I tried to find any books or studies about Yemeni Jews in English, and all I found was one book about Yemeni-American second generation girls in Michigan (it’s called “All American Yemeni Girls” by Loukia K. Sarroub, and is an amazing study you should read). All I found was this one book! This tells me that both the Middle Eastern and Mizrachi communities are lacking in literature. 

Please just consider integrating different Jewish communities into your story if possible.

Shira’s Note:

Great post! I just wanted to add a note that I’ve seen a Native+Jewish blogger on Tumblr; I’m not sure if there was a conversion or intermarriage at some point but I would hate for that one blogger (whose URL escapes me at the moment) to feel erased. Another note about the bilingual thing: it is VERY, VERY important for people writing bilingual characters to understand that different languages treat their bilingual speakers different ways. The ways Yiddish sneaks into English are different from the ways Spanish sneaks into English and both are different from the way Mandarin sneaks into English. Don’t extrapolate the Yiddish-inflected English from TV sitcom Ashkies as the way Spanglish works, for example. This post is a testimonial as to why.

Third, lol: “All of them are white German Jews who’s family suffered through the Holocaust.” it me, so thank you for contributing this post so that my voice isn’t the only one on here. We all really appreciate it.

–Shira

youtube

VICTON has released the MV for “Unbelievable,” the title track of their 3rd mini-album “Identity.”

1. 말도 안돼 Unbelievable
2. 뺏길까봐 Stay With Me
3. 느린 이별 Slow Goodbye
4. Flower
5. Light

Buy “Identity” on iTunes

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My first short comic in ages! Haven’t drawn comics in over 9 years so getting back into it proved to be a tough but rewarding learning experience.

Not autobiographical, but I did want to have a white nose at one point growing up after a I got called a Chinese pig at school because of my flat nose. For a very long time I thought a long white nose, blond hair and blue eyes could solve all of my problems, but turns out they can’t! I’ve also grown fond of my flat nose and almond-shaped eyes over the years. Enjoy!

KURO WEEK - DAY 2: Identity

“And I cannot help but wonder,

where does ‘he’ end

and where do ‘I’ begin?”


Even after their escape, Kuro still felt the cold pressure on his back – the ever watching eyes of the Druids. Always waiting, always anticipating his next move to be a failure. Always looking for a reason to get to him. To hurt him and tell him how he needed to become the Champion – Shiro. Over and over again. Until he would believe it. Until he would embrace the idea of losing himself to the arena, and become their greatest weapon.

He could still hear them comparing him to his original sometimes. He knew he was an individual personality. He had to be. And still, after all this time, Kuro was at a loss.

He still wondered, what was real, and what not. What was him and what was Shiro? Which traits, which quirks, which likes and dislikes were exclusively Kuro? And which ones were copied from the original? Which facets of his personality were his? Which ones were only a mere shadow of a man he loathed and loved at the same time?

He was at a loss.

After all this time, Kuro still wondered, where Shiro ended

and where he began.

___

Okay, so my poor baby sometimes wonders if he’s a real, individual person or if his mind, too, is nothing but a copy. Second entry for the @kuroweek 2017 :3

yellow-eyed-monsters  asked:

I have a question that may come out sounding kinda rude, but why can't writers write poc as people, put them through the same trials and tribulations as caucasian characters? This may come out sounding different that what I've asked in my head so if that's the case, I'm terribly sorry

Writing About PoC Trials and Tribulations

I understand where you’re coming from, because it looks unequal when you take it simply as “humans struggle, so why can’t we write about PoC struggling?”

What Topics To Avoid isn’t talking about struggle in general, which is where the confusion comes from.

Yes, you can write PoC struggling. This is not the question at hand.

What that post was pointing out is PoC struggle is rarely individual trials and tribulations like white characters.

When a white character struggles, they are struggling with something that is an individual struggle that is treated as a universal narrative for that person’s individual issues (like, everyone’s felt like an underdog at one point for various reasons). But if you look at the dominant stories for PoC, the struggle is directly because of their ethnicity, such as segregation, or a racial-based war, and/or colonialism, to name a few. The plot falls apart when the ethnicity/situation is changed.

We are asking you to look at why you are attracted to struggles that come directly as a result of being a certain ethnicity. 

Starcrossed lovers are fine, but why does every starcrossed lovers story involving a PoC have to be set at a time when interracial marriage was illegal, and/or in a setting where one side’s family hate the other for their skin tone?

An underdog with less experience is fine, but why does every underdog involving a PoC involve somebody who came from an impoverished background and low quality schools because it’s in a predominantly PoC neighbourhood?

The question we want white writers to ask is: “does my character struggle and experience pain primarily because of their ethnic background, does my character experience a unique struggle because of their ethnic background, or is my struggle primarily because of individual circumstances that are informed by the ethnicities at hand?”

If they experience a struggle primarily because of their ethnic background (ie- segregation), then that is a very nuanced narrative that should be left alone by outsiders because it’s exploiting another person’s pain for your plot.

If they experience a struggle heavily informed because of their ethnic background (ie- underdog because of racism, navigating a system that has particularly potent institutionalized racism like the psychiatric system), then that is an identity story that should be left alone by outsiders because it’s treating various isms (racism, classism, colourism) as a tragic backstory to overcome.

If they experience a struggle where their ethnicity plays a part but only minor events change if you switch around ethnicity (ie- starcrossed lovers where one side is very closed off), then it’s primarily because of individual circumstance that can be written by outsiders who do enough research.

I recently saw a very cute concept where a boy falls in love with a Muslim girl who keeps halal. He tried to win her heart by cooking, but she refused to eat it because it wasn’t halal. Once he discovered what the issue was, he learned all about halal cooking and made her halal meals to win her heart.

This story is only moderately informed by the girl’s customs. The story could be simply that she’s a picky eater, allergic to some foods, or has specific tastes. Because you can swap out a few things for it, this story isn’t About Being Muslim. The plot would’ve changed based on what it was, but the actual plot point could be anything.

But if there was a similar “guy falls for Muslim girl” situation and his family was Islamophobic, that would be using Islamophobia for plot pain and reinforcing all the gross stuff Muslims go through because of Islamophobia.

Hope that clears things up.

~ Mod Lesya

My autistic and lesbian identities are intertwined by people’s desire to get rid of both groups. Whether it’s conversion therapy or applied behavioral analysis, parents shell out money to torture their children into compliance with what they deem ‘normal.’ … Neurotypical and cisgender, heterosexual people often operate under the assumption that our suffering is caused by our differences, and not by a world that hasn’t been built for people like us.