“We Are the People. Who Are You?”

(p. A16) A Tel Aviv University sociologist named Nissim Mizrachi who spent years studying those voters and grappling with their rejection of liberalism thought he understood why.

The problem was not, he said, as some liberals contend, that Jews of Mediterranean origin, or Mizrahim, were confused about what was best for them. They weren’t suffering from Stockholm syndrome or “false consciousness.”

What liberals failed to see, the professor asserted, was that working-class Mizrahim were consciously spurning liberalism for a reason: what they see as the endgame of the liberal worldview is not a world they wish to inhabit.

“It’s really hard for liberals to imagine that their message, their vision itself, poses a threat to the core identity of other people,” Professor Mizrachi, 58, said in an interview.

His description of liberalism’s blind spots, published in the newspaper Haaretz a year ago, shook the Israeli left like an ideological bunker-busting bomb, and could hold lessons for another deeply polarized society in the West.

. . .

“You keep ridiculing us and presenting us as undemocratic and dangerous,” he said, articulating the non-liberal view. “But we are the people. Who are you?’”

. . .

“This is the lesson maybe for you,” Professor Mizrachi said. “OK, you won the election, fine. But don’t forget that red America is still there.”

For the full story, see:

David M. Halbfinger. “Explaining Right-Wing Politics in America, via the Middle East.” The New York Times (Saturday, December 19, 2020): A16.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Dec. 23, 2020, and has the title “To Understand Red-State America, He Urges a Look at Red-State Israel.”)

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