Looking someone in the eye, unlike focusing with them, requires a certain strength; a look in the eye is often followed by a look at the self. Coinciding with the publication of the Eastern Commonness initiative, Mati Shemoelof, a poet of Iraqi origin and one of the signatories of the appeal, wrote a blog post responding to the Zionist claim that the Palestinian refugees are the equivalent of the Arab Jews kicked out of Arab lands and that the properties they left behind in Egypt, Iraq and Yemen are of equal value to the properties Palestinians left behind them — so even-steven, according to this Zionist logic. Shemoelof responds forcefully to this argument with 22 points, including:
Many Arab Jews see themselves as having come to Israel as Zionist immigrants, just like their Ashkenazi brothers and sisters. They don’t see themselves as refugees.
Any honest person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must admit that the comparison between Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews is tenuous.
Palestinian refugees did not ask to leave Palestine. In 1948, numerous Palestinian communities were destroyed and some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from historic Palestine. Those who fled did not leave their homes of their own free will.
The Jews of Iraq were Iraqi citizens when the nakba [Arab defeat in the 1948 war with Israel] happened, so it’s also not correct to pit them against Palestinians and their property.
The ideological impetus for the displacement of Arab Jews was part of the Zionist movement and the state of Israel, not of immigrant Jewish communities themselves.
In Israel, we [Mizrahi Jews] live between one exile and another, generation after generation. The state still refuses to recognize its responsibility for various issues related to the integration of immigrants from the East … It refuses to recognize its role in the poverty thrust on them, it refuses to ensure a fair division of land and resources, it continues to administer an unfair budget and neglect the suburbs (those to which primarily immigrants from Arab countries and Iran were sent, as part of a specific policy) in all possible dimensions.
Naal El Toukhi