The Russian sector appears to be very racist. I wouldn't say it's necessarily by choice. The Russian media is extremely problematic; it leads people in certain directions. For a long time I thought Russians were "born" racist, but then I worked for the Jewish Agency's tours project and saw that there are so many people from there, left-wingers, right-wingers, radicals. What is problematic is the absorption process for the immigrants here. It begins with the Jewish Agency's tours, then the Russian media, and then their sons are drafted into the army. So we meet in order to organize a group. It's a long and tiring process, but very interesting. I think that groups must undergo a process of self-composition before they can integrate with other groups. Moreover, I think that disadvantaged groups have to undergo their own processes and not be integrated into other groups. I think that other groups will emerge, and will remain apart until they initiate some sort of dialogue with other groups.Inclusion has never worked. Take Ta'ayush for example. It's a Jewish-Arab partnership with two Arabs per branch! What for? It doesn't work. It's a process. The intentions are good, but the process is as follows: there are good intentions; it all begins with the best of intentions! After that start you have the unequal numbers of Arabs and Jews, and the Ashkenazi Jews, mostly men, who are more eloquent speakers, for example, take up more space in the discussions, and influence it more than the Palestinians or Mizrachis or women or any other group. Secondly, who makes the decisions during the meetings? Who does the scheduling? There are more Jews so they do the schedule. I should mention that the Palestinians endure harsher financial constraints than the Jews, and it's evident. These organizations have Jews that are professors and Palestinians who are working class. How long can a person hold it together? The professors can contribute their time, make phone calls, but the working class people have to work. Now, there are Palestinian professors, but each of them has their own non-profit organization. While it appears to be an interclass encounter, however unequal, it doesn't work by definition. Ultimately the groups remain homogeneous, and homogeneous minority groups also form, allegedly adapted to those minorities' needs. A group of Mizrachis, lesbian-Palestinians, a group of Russians. From within these groups there can be a more equal inter-group dialog. If individuals are forced together, then the dominant voice will always control the group. These unions don't work, but when you stand with your budget versus theirs, vision versus vision, then there's a way to talk. There's room for cooperation, it's less within the groups and more on the level of coalitions.
A coalition like ours is problematic because it's no longer merely a coalition. It's an organization by its own right, a long-term coalition, and the dominant voices are Ashkenazi. That isn't bad by definition; it's only bad when people aren't aware of it. I'm not opposed to men holding a conference called "The Future of Men in the Middle East 25" and not inviting any of us. I'd be the first to turn them down. I think there's room for the issue of groups versus inter-group relations. The problems emerge when people don't understand that. It happens when certain activities they undertake are privileged, and they think they represent the rest.
The Coalition underwent a long process and the outcome is that we don't presume to represent everybody. We asked Ahoti if they would be willing to lead a project in the South. We don't represent Mizrachi women, but there is an organization that does. I think it's a unique understanding that no other Ashkenazi organization on the Left has reached, a step in understanding that it says we don't know it all, even though we think we do.