Israeli Poet Almog Behar on his Mashreqi Roots

More from the sickbed — where cut-and-paste is the best I can do — this piece from an unlikely source, The Jerusalem Post:

The Resurgent Mizrahi Voice

01/04/2012 18:26   By KAMOUN BEN-SHIMON

Poet Almog Behar epitomizes the move of some Israelis to embrace their Middle Eastern roots.

Almog Behar

Photo by: SARAH DEMMI LEVIN

One evening during the summer’s months of unrest, Almog Behar walks into the protest tent camp in the heart of Jerusalem set up by single mothers. The women greet Behar, a poet, author and teacher, enthusiastically. Pushing a baby stroller with his one-yearold son, Ariel, bundled up well against Jerusalem’s summer night’s chill, Behar sits down comfortably among the women.

This tent camp is among the least popular of the demonstrations. It is here that the truly needy, the dispossessed and disenfranchised, the unemployed and homeless have pitched their tents in the city center, off King George V street. This tent camp doesn’t film as well as the ones set up by the savvy, photogenic, middle-class students.

Behar, 33, a striking figure with his thick black beard and pale skin, is a popular lecturer, who often leads workshops in writing and self-empowerment. But he hasn’t come here as an outsider supporter or as a facilitator; it is clear he sees himself, and that the women see him, as an integral part of the group. Behar, 33, married and a new father, has a comfortable home and is gainfully employed writing, editing and teaching, yet he took an active part in the housing demonstrations.

“As a Mizrahi intellectual, this is where I should be, since most of the demonstrators are Mizrahim,” he contends, referring to Jews who immigrated to Israel from Muslim countries. “I want to paint Israeli society in other colors and, especially, I want to change the view of the demonstrations. The protest by Tel Avivians, students who took to the tents because the rents in the nicest places in the city were too high, isn’t on my radar.”

Several months later, Behar meets with The Jerusalem Report in a small, fashionable Jerusalem coffee shop. He continues to believe that he can change Israeli society with ideas rooted in Judaism and not, he says, from the worldview of the bourgeoisie. “I want justice for everyone, even those who don’t agree with me politically,” he adds, acknowledging that most of the people he worked with over the summer did not support his left-wing views regarding the rights of the Palestinians.

[…] ctd here.

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2 Responses

  1. Poo says:

    He’ll be working a lot of summers before he meets many who agree with him. His views are not left wing, they are completely tipped over.

  2. Rochelle Owens says:

    JUSTICE JUSTICE THOU SHALT PURSUE

    Read: Prof. Rav Yehoshua Rahamim Dipour
    Georges Elia Sarfati

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