Blood and Culture

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The State of Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, creating a national homeland for all Jewish people throughout the world. The establishment of a uniquely Jewish state in the Arab controlled Middle East has created serious tension between the Jews and their Arab neighbors, and more specifically, the Palestinians. However, Israel's problems regarding race and ethnicity extend far beyond the Jewish-Palestinian issue, and yet, they touch much closer to home for Israeli Jews. Although Israel was founded as a homeland where all Jews could live together as equals, there has been a high level of racial inequality for the Sephardic and Oriental Jews, which has been fueled in large part by the Ashkenazim. The lack of Jewish unity has created even more problems in an already tumultuous state.
Israeli Jewish society is broken down into two major subsections, which have been designated, in large part, by country of origin: the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim.The definition of the Ashkenazim is fairly straightforward, referring to Jews from Germany, central or Eastern Europe, as well as the United States. A definition of the Sephardim is more involved; originally the Sephardim were "all the Jews originating in Spain and Portugal who after the Inquisition lived in both Europe and in'Oriental' countries, Egypt and North Africa."However, today, Sephardim is more loosely defined, and now includes Jews of Mediterranean, Balkan, Aegean and Middle Eastern lands. If keeping with the strict definition of Sephardim, those Jews whose ancestors spoke dialects of Arabic, Berber, or Persian would not be considered Sephardim, but rather, as Edot Mizrah – Mizrahim, (or Oriental Jews) meaning "from the communities of the East."
In order to remain impartial to the Israeli ethnicity issues, it is essential to understand that the term "Oriental" is often misused to mean "Sephardic," but the two term…