In a recent interview, the president discussed his nostalgia for the Israel of “kibbutzim, and Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir,” an Israel which, he claimed, saw Zionism as a project of “remaking the world.” He would make similar remarks in his address to the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington. David Bernstein notes that this translates to nostalgia for a less diverse Israel:
The Israel of kibbutzim, Dayan, and Meir was perhaps a more idealistic, and certainly a more socialist, Israel. But it was also an Israel dominated by a secularized, Ashkenazi elite.
Mizraḥim (Jews from Arab countries), though more than half the population, were marginalized at every level of society. Discrimination was to a large extent institutionalized; the governing Labor party was run by socialist Ashkenazim, and given that state capitalism dominated the Israeli economy, one’s political and social connections went a long way toward determining one’s economic prospects. The kibbutzim in particular were a font of anti-Mizraḥi chauvinism.
More about: Barack Obama, Golda Meir, Israel & Zionism, Kibbutz movement, Mizrahi Jewry, Moshe Dayan