Within the Israeli society, the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi polarisation has resurfaced, this time more acutely than ever. The recent period has seen a renewed debate over issues, which some thought had disappeared. Beyond doubt, this debate has taken on various dimensions and is driven by several motives. Particularly on the Mizrahi side, political motives have promoted identity politics, which entails clear implications in the electoral process. Other factors relate to the Mizrahi identity and culture. To enhance their status and keep injustices visible on the Israeli scene, factors also involve a discussion of the historical discrimination, which has affected the Mizrahi Jews in Israel. Although it eventually gives rise to the Mizrahi identity, this motive is not triggered by any considerations of identity politics.
This paper argues that the current stage has reproduced and brought the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi polarisation back to the surface. As sharp as that of the 1970s and 1980s, the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi polarisation has largely contributed to the rise of the Likud to power. Many factors have helped this polarisation to emerge once again. With a view to political and electoral considerations, the right wing in general, and Mizrahi Jews in particular, have sought to keep polarisation, which provides a guarantee for the right wing to stay in power. In spite of economic policies that undermined them, polarisation maintains the right wing’s Mizrahi grassroots. On the other hand, Ashkenazi left wing elites feel that the current stage foreshadows the end of their role in the statehood project. As a result, they have been more critical of the Mizrahi elites, who, consciously and unconsciously, produce identity politics of the Mizrahi Jews.