Economy and Community

The Rise of New Elites – Mizrahi Israelis as a Case Study

​The Mandel Platform (Bimat Mandel) event featured director and screenwriter David Deri, who showed excerpts from his documentary film The Ancestral Sin, and Dr. Avishay Ben Haim, who spoke about the rise and fall of the Shas movement

​“If an elite is an "elect", as its name implies, who elects it?" asked Dr. Eli Gottlieb, director of the Mandel Leadership Institute. "One of the interesting aspects of elites is that they generally choose themselves,” he answered. “In politics, the rise of a new elite inevitably involves the decline of another. This is the process we are here to examine this evening.”

The first part of the event, which took place at the Mandel Leadership Institute on December 11, 2017, included watching clips from The Ancestral Sin, a documentary by director and screenwriter David Deri, who described the research he conducted in preparation for the film as well as the filmmaking process itself. His thought-provoking film has won several awards, including Award for Best Israeli Director at the 2017 DocAviv International Film Festival. 

David Deri speaks about his documentary film about Mizrahi immigrants at a Mandel Platform (Bimat Mandel)event

The film tells the story of the establishment of Israel’s development towns, using first-hand testimonies and sealed transcripts that reveal the truth behind the policy of “population dispersal” pursued by Israel's leadership during the first two decades of the state, and which laid the foundations for the country's ethnic and class divisions. “My encounters with all kinds of audiences have shown me the extent to which the facts, as revealed in this documentary, are far from well-known by the Israeli public,” Deri said.

During the second half of the event,Dr. Avishay Ben Haim reviewed of the establishment of the Shas movement and its development into a revolutionary force that changed the balance of power in Israel. The Haredi affairs correspondent for Channel 10 News, Ben Haim holds a doctorate in Jewish philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a researcher of ultra-Orthodoxy and of popular religion. 

Dr. Avishay Ben Haim speaks about the rise of Shas at a Mandel Platform (Bimat Mandel) event

“As a result of its success in getting Mizrahim to vote for themselves," said Ben Haim, "Shas shook up the elites in Israel and forced the political system, as well as other systems, to increase Mizrahi representation – in the media, in academia, and in public discourse in general…. I sometimes see Mizrahi journalists on television panels disparaging Shas, and I wonder whether they know they are only able to go on television and criticize Shas as a result of Shas’s struggle,” he continued. “I hear rejoicing at the disintegration of Shas. Personally, I know that the collapse of the movement means that we have tens of thousands of Mizrahi families whom Shas allowed to stand tall for the first time, who are going to feel utterly bereft. We are witnessing a real tragedy, but most of Israeli society is celebrating it.”

The event was led by Dr. Ruth Calderon, a faculty member of the Mandel Leadership Institute, and Naomi Perl, director of the Institute's Mandel Programs for Leadership Development in the Haredi Community.



Recent Bimat Mandel Events