In Israel, the term “Orientals” refers to Jews who immigrated from Moslem countries—mainly from North Africa and the Middle East. The Israeli state bureaucracy designates them as “those originating from Asia and Africa.”
The Israeli public in general and social scientists in particular usually refer to those Jews as Edot Ha’Misrach—the Oriental communities. Both designations “Asian and African” and “Oriental communities” evoke the association of plurality and variety.
In that sense, both terms were correct at the time of immigration; for the Jews who came from Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Syria, and other Moslem countries did represent a variety of communal experiences. However, the continued use of these terms serves to disguise the fact that after they arrived in Israel, most “Asian and African” Jews, or “Oriental communities,” underwent a common social life experience, to the extent that a new collective identity has emerged. The term Misrachim-Orientals—reflects this new identity and is, in fact, being used more and more by Oriental activists....
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