Tensions in Israeli Feminism: The Mizrahi Ashkenazi Rift


Dahan-Kalev, Henriette. 2001. "Tensions in Israeli Feminism: The Mizrahi Ashkenazi Rift" Women's Studies International Forum 24: 1-16.

Author: Henriette Dahan-Kalev


The idea of women's liberation was imported in the 1970s from the West by liberal feminist activists who immigrated to Israel. The first Israeli feminists adopted all the liberal feminist slogans and ideology together with their advantages and the disadvantages. The implantation of these ideas in the Israel—a country torn ethnically—has produced a conflict from which Mizrahi feminism has evolved. By the 1990s, Mizrahi women who participated in feminist activity, and who found themselves excluded and marginalized by the Ashkenazi women who dominated the Israeli feminist movement began to give expression to their feelings of oppression. This reached a peak in 1995 in Natanya with the First Mizrahi Feminist Annual Conference. This article outlines the historical, social, political and ideological processes in which Mizrahi feminism developed. It shows how slogans such as sisterhood and solidarity, have been used to endorse activities which do not benefit women of all the different ethnic groups in Israel. The article includes a discussion of dilemmas that arise from “tokenism” and the purportedly universalist feminist agenda. The Mizrahi feminist agenda and its ideological framework, as well as its strategic aspects, are also critically reviewed.

Topics: Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Women Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 2001

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