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Mizrahi Protests in Wadi Salib, 1959

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: July 9th, 1959

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCcLzaAF2yG/

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Following the shooting of Yaakov Elkarif and his rumored murder by police officers, the Mizrahi community of Wadi Salib, Haifa took to the streets to protest discrimination that they had been subjected to as well as general neglect from the Ashkenazim in power since Israel's establishment.

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The shooting was just the most recent abuse of power that was added to the anger of the predominately North African Mizrahi community of Wadi Salib. The dilapidated conditions of the housing that North African immigrants lived in with many homes lacking suitable infrastructure for water and sewage, as well as lack of upward mobility, caused mass outrage in the Mizrahi community. In response to the establishment’s neglect and discrimination from fellow citizens, 200 enraged residents of Wadi Salib took to the streets and ran the police out of their neighborhood.

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The next day, a protest strike was called by the “United Immigrants of North Africa” and was led by David Ben Harush to call attention to the mistreatment the community faced. The protesters broke into the Histadrut building and the local offices of the Mapai political party. From there, clashes with police led to the destruction of property owned by European immigrants.

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The injustices faced by the community in Haifa were shared by many Mizrahi-Sephardi Jewish citizens across the country and similar demonstrations occurred in Be’er Sheva and Tiberias.

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While imprisoned, David Ben Harush made clear the necessities of his organization and those in the community he represents: individual freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, end to discrimination, free high school education for gifted students, ensuring that everyone has means to provide for themselves and alleviation of poverty.

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Harush's words continue to ring a relevant tone in Israel today.

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Image Source:

https://www.hcm.org.il/eng/Exhibitions/7845/Oskar_Tauber:_photo-journalist

Text Source:

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1.5280465

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