Mizrahi Jews | Just Vision Skip to main content

The glossary is comprised of nearly 250 terms related to the Israeli-Palestinian context. Given the rapidly shifting landscape, these terms cannot capture the full range of nuances, narratives and historical events. This tool is meant as a starting point and we encourage you to continue your exploration of this topic through further research. Last update and review: September 2015.

Mizrahi Jews

(Hebrew for "Eastern".) The term is used to refer to Jews of Middle-Eastern and North African origin, who are sometimes known as "Arab Jews." The term is often used synonymously with "Sephardic Jews," though Sephardic connotes religious practice and Mizrahi connotes place of origin. Arabic was/is the mother tongue of most Mizrahi Jews at the time of their immigration to Israel in the early 1950's, and other native languages include Persian, Marathi, Tajik and others. Approximately 700,000 Mizrahi Jews were expelled from their country of origin in the years after the 1948 War and many immigrated to Israel; others left of their own will, due to encouragement by Israel, and/or because of deteriorating conditions in their native countries after the founding of the State of Israel. There are several incidents in which Zionist agents committed acts of sabotage in order to hasten the flight/explusion of Mizrahi Jews to Israel. Mizrahi Jews faced marginalization upon their immigration to Israel at the hands of the politically and culturally dominant Ashkenazi Jews. Jews coming from Arab and Muslim countries were usually settled in under-serviced development towns far from Israel's major population centers, endured systemic discrimination, and were treated as culturally inferior. Though social integration has improved in Israeli society, there are still wide disparities educationally and economically between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews. In recent years, a debate has begun about whether the plight of Mizrahi Israelis who were expelled from their country of origin should be part of peace negotiations, and whether their plight is parallel to that of Palestinian refugees. See the website for "Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow." See also "Danny Ayalon and the Jewish refugee fallacy," Daniel Haboucha, The Times of Israel, October 1, 2012.