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Ashkenaz
 
 

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ASHKENAZ


Directed by | Rachel Leah Jones

Genre documentary  |  Length: 72mins  |  Year of production: 2007


Ashkenaz is Rachel Leah Jones’s (500 Dunam on the Moon) filmessay on Zionism’s (and Israel’s) historically hegemonic European ethnic elite. In the director’s own words: “Ashkenazim—Jews of European origin—are Israel’s “white folks.” And like most white folks in a multicultural society, they see themselves as the social norm and don’t think of themselves in racial or ethnic terms because by now, “aren’t we all Israeli?” Yiddish has been replaced with Hebrew, exile with occupation, the shtetl with the kibbutz and oldfashioned irony with postmodern cynicism. But the paradox of whiteness in Israel is that Ashkenazim aren’t exactly “white folks” historically. A story that begins in the Rhineland and ends in the holy land (or is it the other way around?), Ashkenaz looks at whiteness in Israel and wonders: How did the “Others” of Europe become the “Europe” of the others?”

Offering what Ella Shohat describes as ‘an audaciously lucid gaze at the ironic twists of history’, Ashkenaz weds wry wit with explosive political questions so as to generate a compelling portrait of a complex political and cultural identity.